A U.S. district judge in Ocala granted actor Wesley Snipes' request Thursday to remain free on bail while he appeals his prison sentence for failing to file tax returns.
Snipes, 45, received a maximum three-year prison sentence April 24 after a jury found him guilty of three misdemeanor counts of failure to file income taxes. He was scheduled to surrender to the U.S. Marshal's Service in June to begin his prison term, but Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges agreed to allow Snipes to remain free pending his appeal.
In his written order, Hodges said he wasn't convinced that Snipes was likely to flee or pose a danger to anyone.
"We acknowledge, appreciate and are humbled by the fairness of Judge Hodges' ruling today in the case of the USA vs. Wesley Snipes," Daniel Meachum, one of Snipes' attorneys, said in a statement. "We move forward today in our preparation in the appeal process and remain optimistic."
Prosecutors accused the Blade trilogy star of conspiring with two men to defraud the Internal Revenue Service of about $11.4-million in refunds on taxes Snipes paid in 1996 and 1997. An indictment charged Snipes with failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004, while he earned nearly $38-million.
The jury acquitted him on three of the six misdemeanor failure-to-file charges, and also found him not guilty of two felony charges that included conspiracy and filing a false claim with the IRS.