Actor Snipes asks for new trial in Fla. tax case

Associated Press
FILE - In this March 2, 2010 file photo, Wesley Snipes attends the premiere of "Brooklyn's Finest" in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, file)
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FILE - In this March 2, 2010 file photo, Wesley Snipes attends the premiere of "Brooklyn's Finest" in …

Federal prosecutors on Monday asked that Wesley Snipes' bond be revoked if a judge refuses to grant the "Blade" actor a new trial on tax-related charges.

Snipes' defense attorney asked for the new trial during a two-hour hearing in federal court. Daniel Meachum argued that two jurors had sent him e-mails recently claiming three other jurors had determined Snipes' guilt before the 2008 trial began.

Snipes faces three years in prison for his conviction on three tax-related counts. He was acquitted of a handful of other counts.

Snipes, star of the 1992 film "White Men Can't Jump," has been free on bond while appealing the conviction. He didn't attend Monday's hearing.

Meachum said he wanted the jurors to be interviewed about whether they had perjured themselves by stating during jury selection that they didn't have preconceived opinions about the case.

U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges didn't say when he would rule. But the judge questioned whether interviewing jurors two years after the trial would violate the "black box" of privacy in which jury deliberations occur. The judge also asked whether a new trial should also include the counts on which Snipes was acquitted, given that the same jurors whom the actor claims were tainted also cleared Snipes of some charges.

"What if the other jurors deny the accusations by the two jurors? It's two against three," Hodges said. "The probability is, there isn't going to be unanimity among jurors."

Meachum also argued a new trial should be granted because an important witness during the trial, Kenneth Starr, has since pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Starr, a financial adviser to celebrities, admitted to cheating wealthy and elderly clients out of tens of millions of dollars during a plea hearing last September in New York.

Meachum asked the judge to hold an evidentiary hearing in order to find out if Internal Revenue Service agents working on the Snipes case also knew that Starr was under investigation.

Federal prosecutor Patricia Duffy Barksdale said investigators didn't know about Starr's criminal conduct at the time of Snipes' trial and that the actor's attorneys couldn't show that Starr had given any false testimony.

The prosecutor said questioning jurors two years after a trial would create a chilling effect.

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