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Stephen Baldwin avoids jail time, ordered to pay $400K in back taxes

Actor Stephen Baldwin speaks to the media outside

Actor Stephen Baldwin speaks to the media outside the Rockland County Courthouse in New City after appearing in court to answer charges for failing to file income tax. (March 29, 2013.) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

Actor Stephen Baldwin pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion charges in Rockland County Court Friday morning and agreed to pay $400,000 in back taxes, $100,000 of which has already been paid.

The Upper Grandview resident has exactly one year to pay the remaining restitutions to avoid possible jail time.

Baldwin, 46, admitted in the New City courtroom that he failed to file personal income tax returns to the state in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"I'm just grateful for the opportunity to rectify that situation, first and foremost," Baldwin told reporters as he exited the courthouse.

"It has never been or will it ever be my intention to not pay my taxes," Baldwin said. "I just look forward to getting this $300,000 paid up in the next year. I have wonderful opportunities right now on the horizon to be able to do that and I believe I can."

The current "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" contestant was sharply dressed in a well-tailored navy blue pin-striped suit and black wire-frame glasses as he sat among those charged with attempted burglary, drunken driving and involvement with gambling rings, waiting about 90 minutes for his case to be called.

The youngest of the four acting Baldwin brothers waived his right to a jury trial and was soft-spoken when facing the judge.

Baldwin told the court that he had hired a firm to file the taxes for him and believed they had done so.

He was ordered to report to the probation office Friday afternoon to schedule an appointment to discuss the terms of his case. Baldwin will return to court on July 19 so the judge can check on his progress.

Supreme Court Judge Charles Apotheker told Baldwin he must go to the probation office "just like everybody else," gesturing to others seated in the courtroom. He warned the actor to cooperate "at all times" or he may face a jail sentence of up to 3 years.

"This defendant withheld taxes that he was legally obligated to pay as a New York State resident," Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said in a statement released after the judge's ruling. "Individuals who attempt to steal from the public are stealing from the pockets of every New Yorker. Regardless of social status or income level, my office is committed to pursuing criminals who purposefully cheat the government and law-abiding taxpayers."

Baldwin was arrested Dec. 6 and released without bail the same day. The case was moved from Nyack Justice Court to Rockland County Court because Baldwin faced felony charges, which are not handled by the village court.

If all restitutions are paid in full by March 29, 2014, Baldwin will be sentenced to a conditional discharge and charges will be dropped, Apotheker ruled. If the full amount is not paid, the actor will be sentenced to 5 years probation and possible jail time.

Baldwin said he does not plan to press charges against those he said were responsible for not filing the taxes on his behalf.

Although Baldwin's lawyer, Russell Yankwitt, previously told Newsday that the actor had already filed his taxes this year, Baldwin admitted to reporters that he had not yet filed his 2011 return, but that he is working with a whole new team to do so.

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