Stephen Baldwin charged with failure to pay taxes in Nyack

Actor Stephen Baldwin attends the Cinema Society screening Actor Stephen Baldwin attends the Cinema Society screening of "Footloose" at the Tribeca Grand Hotel's screening room in Manhattan. (Oct. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Actor Stephen Baldwin was arrested by Rockland County authorities Thursday after failing to pay more than $350,000 in personal income taxes to the state for three years, officials said.

Baldwin, 46, of Upper Grandview, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of a charge of failing to file his personal tax returns.

He was arraigned Thursday in Nyack Justice Court and released on his own recognizance. Baldwin pleaded not guilty and was released without bail.

"At a time when Rockland County and New York State face severe fiscal shortfalls, we cannot afford to allow wealthy residents to break the law by cheating on their taxes," said Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe. "The defendant's repetitive failure to file returns and pay taxes over a period of several years contributes to the sweeping cutbacks and closures in local government and in our schools."

Baldwin, who lives "in a modest residence," is eager to put his tax problems behind him, said Russell Yankwitt, his attorney.

"Mr. Baldwin is not guilty of any crimes but he is working diligently with New York State tax authorities and the district attorney's office to resolve any disputes they may have," Yankwitt said. "Stephen has the utmost respect for government officials and is confident (the tax issue) can come to an amicable resolution."

The state's commissioner of Taxation and Finance, Thomas Mattox, praised Zugibe's decision to pursue criminal charges against Baldwin for failing to pay taxes in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"It is rare and unfortunate for a personal income tax case to require such strong enforcement measures in order to ensure compliance with our tax laws," Mattox said.

Baldwin is due back in court on Feb. 5.

Separately, in October, he pleaded guilty in Manhattan to unlicensed driving and was ordered to pay a $75 fine.

Earlier this year, he lost a $17 million civil case in New Orleans after claiming that actor Kevin Costner and a business partner duped him in a deal related to the cleanup of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The actors and others had formed a company that marketed devices that separate oil from water.

The actor is the youngest of the acting Baldwin brothers. He starred in 1995's "The Usual Suspects" and appeared in 1989's "Born on the Fourth of July."

As of late, Baldwin, who grew up in Massapequa, Long Island, has been working as a radio host.

His 2006 book, "The Unusual Suspect," recounts his days of drug abuse as well as his decision to become a born-again Christian following the 9/11 attacks.

In 2008, he was a regular on "Celebrity Apprentice" hosted by Donald Trump. Baldwin has filmed additional episodes of the Apprentice that are set to air in March of 2013, but any money he earns from those appearances will go to charity, Yankwitt said.

In the meantime, he's looking for more work. "He's currently working on a few potential movie deals," his attorney said.

With The Associated Press

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