There was no Rambo to the rescue, no Muhammad Ali to throw a knockout punch for the defense in the Wesley Snipes tax-evasion trial.
The defense simply rested Monday morning in Florida without putting one witness on the stand to speak on behalf of Snipes, who faces up to 16 years in prison (that’s five more years than Al Capone received and 12 more than hotelier Leona Helmsley).
“The government didn’t make its case,” says Snipes attorney Robert Bernhoft. “There were a lot of witnesses ready to step up to testify on his behalf.”
Bernhoft maintains the government failed to prove his client willfully violated the tax laws when he failed to send in his returns for six years from 1999 through 2004.
Although juries often want to hear the defendant proclaim his innocence from the stand, his attorney thought it best to simply rest.
“It’s very effective to rest the defense and not waste the jury’s time with some dog-and-pony show defense that’s absolutely unnecessary,” Bernhoft says. “It would have been real easy for us to drag a bunch of celebrities through here and try and give the jury some big show. That’s not what this is about.”
The actor’s defense team initially named celebs including Sylvester Stallone and Muhammad Ali on its list of possible witnesses.
For his part, Snipes, who has been dapper in his court appearance with dark pinstriped suits and a bracelet of Shaolin Temple beads on his left wrist, says he remains confident.
“I am very confident,” Snipes says. “I was innocent from the beginning.”