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January 17, 2008

Five men and 11 women - 12 jurors and four alternates - learned yesterday that they will have to decide whether Wesley Snipes is a guilty crook or an innocent fool. From the Ocala Star Banner:

In opening statements, federal prosecutor Robert O'Neill portrayed Snipes as a man who deliberately filed false documents with the IRS and failed to file tax forms for years while conspiring with Kahn and Rosile to defraud the government.

"Snipes, Kahn and Rosile agreed to defraud the United States by not paying taxes due," O'Neill said.

Defense lawyers portrayed Snipes as a hardworking artist, dedicated to his family, a displaced victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and an unwitting pawn of bad tax advisers. Lawyer Daniel Meachum said Snipes hired Kahn's American Rights Litigators organization, based in Mount Dora, to provide him with tax advice.

This could be fun. A displaced victim of 9/11? From an interview in USA Weekend:

"I lived right across the street from Ground Zero." The collapse of the World Trade Center towers caused extensive structural damage to Snipes' fourth-floor apartment and destroyed several precious belongings. "The most damaged part of the building was where my baby boys slept," he says. On that day he was at his home in Marina del Rey, Calif., taking care of his recently born child, Iset, his third.

A refugee in Marina Del Rey? Get that man a Red Cross blanket! But if that got a bit rough, he could go to the Florida house listed on his drivers license -- the one he bought in 1992 for $1,050,000, according to testimony yesterday.

Eddie Kahn, one of the "advisors" who helped Mr. Snipes get into this mess, made his first statements in his own defense:

Kahn attempted to make a brief opening statement to tell jurors why he refused to participate in the trial. He attempted to tell jurors his belief that Hodges isn't legally a judge, but Hodges quickly cut him off. Kahn declined to make any other statement.

Quatloos describes Mr. Kahn thusly:

Eddie Kahn of "American Rights Litigators" represents the Hee-Haw contingent of the tax protestor movement...Eddie caters to the dumbest of the dumb, and his theories for not paying taxes are thus the dumbest of the dumb.

So if part of Mr. Snipes strategy is to show that he's not very bright, he may have a case.

The Tax Policy Blog today discusses the moronic "Section 861 argument" that Mr. Snipes was using. Taxable Talk is also on the case.

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