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Stephen Baldwin avoids jail time in tax case, lawyer says

Stephen Baldwin at a screening in New York.

Stephen Baldwin at a screening in New York. (March 5, 2013) Credit: AP

Actor Stephen Baldwin will avoid jail time after agreeing to a plea deal Monday morning on a charge of not paying $350,000 in New York State income taxes for three years, his attorney said.

The deal was reached at a closed-door court session, attorney Russell Yankwitt told News12.

Baldwin -- the youngest of the four acting Baldwin brothers -- will appear in Rockland County Court in New City on March 29 to formally enter his plea, Yankwitt said. He is charged with one count of repeated failure to file personal income tax returns, a felony.

Had Baldwin been convicted in a trial, he could have faced up to four years in state prison.

"Mr. Baldwin is very appreciative to the DA's office for their time and patience in working through this difficult negotiation, and he looks forward to returning to work and paying back the government as quickly as possible," Yankwitt said.

He said the exact amount to be paid was still being negotiated but was "in the ballpark" of $350,000. If Baldwin pays the money back within a year, his record will be wiped clean, Yankwitt said. If not, he'll be sentenced to probation and will be given five years to pay back the money.

"The district attorney's office and the judge made it very clear that Mr. Baldwin will not be going to prison," Yankwitt said. "If Mr. Baldwin can't work, he can't pay back his back taxes."

Prosecutor Anthony Dellicarri confirmed that a tentative agreement had been reached on a plea deal but would not detail the specifics. Messages left with the district attorney's office were not immediately returned Monday.

Baldwin, 46, of Upper Grandview, was accused of skipping New York taxes in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Asked how Baldwin would get the money, Yankwitt replied, "He's doing commercials. He's acting. He's out in the public."

Baldwin has been heard on New York radio in recent days in a commercial for a teeth-whitening system.

"The economy is not what it was, and Mr. Baldwin is a faith-based actor, which makes it harder to get roles," said Yankwitt, describing Baldwin as a born-again Christian. "In the past, he did movies that portrayed violence and drugs. He no longer does those types of movies."

Baldwin's brother Alec was a star of TV's "30 Rock," and brothers William and Daniel also are actors. When Yankwitt was asked he was getting help from his siblings, he said only, "Mr. Baldwin is thankful for the love and support of his family."

Yankwitt said Stephen Baldwin got in trouble because he "relied on others," including an accountant and a lawyer.

"He never intended to defraud the government," the attorney said. "The government understands that."

Stephen Baldwin, who starred in 1995's "The Usual Suspects," has been free without bail. On his Twitter feed, he describes himself as an "actor, author, Jesus freak, radio talk show host and the kookiest of the Baldwin brothers."

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

Last 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.

Stephen Baldwin's December arrest was the result of an investigation by the Rockland County special investigations unit and the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

With The Associated Press and News12

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