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Fugitive caught in alleged $1.1B tax-dodge scheme

Fugitive caught in alleged $1.1B tax-dodge scheme

Federal agents have arrested a fugitive employee of a company that prosecutors say helped actor Wesley Snipes and dozens of other clients dodge more than $1.1 billion in taxes, ending a two-month search, officials said Thursday.
Stephen C. Hunter was arrested at his son's home in Columbus, Georgia on Tuesday, two months after he skipped a November court date to face federal charges that he conspired to defraud the government, said U.S. Marshals spokesman Daniel Winfield.
Hunter worked in the research department of American Rights Litigators, a company that purported to help members legally avoid paying taxes by selling "tax defiance schemes," according to federal prosecutors. A telephone call to Ed Sussman, who is listed as Hunter's attorney, was not immediately returned.
The 2008 trial against Snipes, the star of the "Blade" trilogy, helped illuminate the company's strategy, which prosecutors said was aimed at interfering with the IRS. Snipes got involved in 2000 after meeting Eddie Ray Kahn, the company's founder, and he soon stopped filing tax returns, prosecutors said.
Snipes, who was a dues-paying member of the organization, was sentenced to three years in prison in April 2008 after he was convicted of three counts of willfully failing to file returns for three years, in which the government said he owed $2.7 million. Snipes asked a federal appeals panel in November to review the "unreasonable" sentence.
Kahn and Douglas P. Rosile, who prepared Snipes' taxes, were both convicted the same year on felony tax charges. Kahn was sentenced to the maximum 10 years and Rosile received 4 1/2 years.
The cases against Hunter and several other employees are still pending, though, and federal authorities in Washington issued an arrest warrant for him in November after he failed to appear in court. U.S. Marshals were ordered to apprehend Hunter, who they said had claimed he would not be taken alive.
Investigators were tipped this month that Hunter was fleeing the Ocala, Florida area and could be headed for Columbus, said Winfield. A team surrounded his son's house around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and ordered him to give himself up, said Winfield.
"He stood in the window and dared us to come get him _ and we did," said Winfield. "He went without a fight."


Updated : 2021-04-22 02:06 GMT+08:00