Saturday, June 24, 2023

The tax cases of Hunter Biden and actor Wesley Snipes -- one free, the other imprisoned for three years -- raise questions about the role of race in U.S. courtrooms


Wesley Snipes in "Demolition Man"

Hunter Biden's plea deal on tax and gun-possession charges has set off a flurry of heated public exchanges among Democrats, Republicans, and legal experts of various political stripes -- centering on claims of favoritism for the son of a sitting president vs. questions about whether former President Donald Trump will be held accountable on anything, including tax and classified-documents issues.

Donald Watkins, a longtime Alabama attorney, civil-rights advocate, and criminal-defense expert, has entered the fray, approaching it from a different angle -- comparing the Hunter Biden case to a tax matter involving Black actor Wesley Snipes and asking if Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, is the embodiment of a justice system that allows favorable and unjust treatment for certain defendants based on "white privilege," which now appears to be operating in plain view. Writes Watkins under the headline "Defining 'White Privilege' in Hunter Biden’s Criminal Case":

America, Hunter Biden’s tax-evasion and gun-possession case is a clear example of “white privilege” operating freely and openly within the federal criminal-justice system. If you do not see this “white privilege,” it is because you do not want to see it.

Let’s compare Hunter Biden’s preferential treatment within the federal criminal-justice system with Wesley Snipes’ nightmarish experience.

Hunter Biden, who is white, failed to pay federal income taxes and possessed a firearm while being addicted to crack cocaine.

Hunter Biden lied on the application he signed to buy the gun in question. Hunter falsely claimed that he was not addicted to illegal drugs when, in fact, he was.

Hunter Biden will be allowed to enter a federal pretrial-diversion program. Because of the gun-possession charge, the Deputy Attorney General had to approve Hunter Biden's admission into the program.What are the criteria for entry into a federal pretrial-diversion program? Watkins spells them out:

Absent approval by the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, any pretrial-diversion program created by a U.S. Attorney's Office shall exclude any individual who is:

1. Accused of an offense related to child exploitation or child pornography, or an offense involving sexual abuse or sexual assault;

2. Accused of an offense resulting in serious bodily injury or death;

3 Accused of an offense involving brandishing or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon;

4. A public official or former public official accused of an offense arising out of an alleged violation of the public trust.

5. Accused of an offense related to national security, including terrorism offenses or foreign affairs; or

6. Accused of an offense in connection with which the individual held a significant managerial role in a a large-scale criminal organization or violent gang.

Writes Watkins:

White House claims that Attorney General Merrick Garland had nothing to do with this case are pure bullshit. The Department of Justice's "fix" of this major criminal case for America's crackhead, gun-toting, First Son required Merrick Garland's prior knowledge and approval.

The Department of Justice has agreed to recommended probation for Hunter Biden, who did not have to cooperate with law-enforcement authorities or give up the names of his drug dealers. Apparently, "snitching" is beneath the dignity of Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden
 Hunter Biden's drug dealers remain free to roam the streets of Delaware. They continue to peddle their crack cocaine to young teenagers and adult drug addicts.

Thanks to a whistleblower complaint filed in Congress, we now know that IRS Criminal Division agents working on Hunter Biden’s case were impeded and/or blocked from conducting a full, fair, and proper criminal investigation into the First Son's case.

What about Wesley Snipes' tax case? Watkins provides the details:

On October 12, 2006, actor Wesley Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn, and Douglas P. Rosile were charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and one count of knowingly making or aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim for payment against the United States. Snipes also was charged with six counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns by their filing dates.

No drugs or guns were involved in Wesley Snipes’ federal criminal case.

Wesley Snipes, who is Black, maintained his innocence. He pleaded “Not Guilty” and stood trial on the felony and misdemeanor charges lodged against him.

On February 1, 2008, Snipes was acquitted on the two felony charges. He was found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns (and acquitted on three other "failure to file" charges).

On April 24, 2008, Snipes was sentenced to 12 months on each of the three misdemeanor convictions, which ran consecutively. He spent nearly 3 years in prison.

When the Hunter Biden and Wesley Snipes cases are examined side-by-side, the evidence appears overwhelming that something helped Hunter Biden stay out of prison, while Wesley Snipes spent three years behind bars. Was that "something" white privilege? A reasonable person could conclude the answer is "yes."

Hunter Biden is part of a famous political family, but any achievements to his credit -- perhaps in business -- have been shrouded in controversy and kept mostly under wraps.

By any definition, Wesley Snipes was a major movie star. In the 1980s and '90s, he starred in numerous box-office hits, including Major League, New jack City, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, The Waterdance, White Men Can't Jump, Passenger 57, and Rising Sun.

Snipes starred in more than 50 films, 18 television shows, one theatre production on Broadway, one music video ("Bad," by Michael Jackson), plus appearances in soundtracks and video games. He has won, or been nominated for. more than 20 awards.

His tax problems reached a head in October 2006, and Snipes' acting career never has fully recovered. Many of his films since 2005 have been direct-to-video or in limited release. At age 60, Snipes' days as a box-office star appear to be over.

Snipes was a celebrity, an artist, and a movie money-making machine. But tax problems and a three-year stint behind bars pretty much put an end to that.

Hunter Biden is famous, but seems to have few achievements to his credit. Wesley Snipes was an accomplished and genuine star. The reported box-office take for his films was $1.2 billion. Snipes' tax case, on the surface, involved a whole lot more money than did Hunter Biden's.

But the bottom line: Hunter Biden is white, and so far, has avoided prison time. Wesley Snipes is Black, and three years behind bars ruined his career. Watkins calls Hunter Biden's plea deal a "failure of justice," and he writes:

Hunter Biden’s plea deal is a failure of justice on many levels and in many respects.

The Hunter Biden versus Wesley Snipes comparison is a clear example of how “white privilege” operates openly, freely, and often within the federal criminal justice system.

This dual system of federal criminal justice, based upon race, operates consistently, whether the sitting president of the United States is a Democrat or Republican and whether he is white or black.

What is worse, most trial judges knowingly allow this race-based disparate treatment within the federal criminal justice system to run rampant, even though they have the power to stop it.

Please notice that neither the American Bar Association, nor the Federal Judges Association, has spoken out against the "fix" in Hunter Biden's federal criminal case.

Finally, we know of no black criminal offender with federal tax-evasion and gun-possession charges who has been offered Hunter Biden's "sweetheart" deal -- ever! This deal is reserved for the most politically connected white offenders.


(Note: Item No. 3 above, regarding the "brandishing or use of a firearm" raises questions about Hunter Biden's eligibility for a federal pretrial-diversion program. Based on our research so far, we are not sure if he is eligible or not. Several primary questions come to mind: (1) Photos on the Internet, apparently taken from Hunter Biden's laptop, show him holding a gun by his side; does that amount to "brandishing a firearm" under Delaware law, which appears to be the governing statute in this case? (2) We know of no allegations that Hunter Biden fired a gun during the course of the investigation on his case, so that means the key question is: Did his actions meet the legal definition of "brandishing a firearm"? Our research, so far, indicates the definition of "brandishing a firearm" varies by jurisdiction, so we have no clear-cut answer to our question: (4) Item 3 holds that a subject must have been accused of "brandishing or use of a firearm" to be excluded from the pretrial-diversion program. We have found no information that indicates Hunter Biden was, or was not, accused of such an offense. So again, we have no clear answer to our question. At this point, Hunter Biden's eligibility for a pretrial-diversion program, in our view, is undetermined.


Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, that is Arsenio Hall with Eddie Murphy in Coming to America.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for letting me know. I will need to switch out the photo. Looks like I goofed.