Lawyer: Stephen Baldwin to avoid jail in tax case

Lawyer: Stephen Baldwin to avoid jail in tax case
FILE - This Oct. 12, 2012 file image released by Starpix shows contestant Stephen Baldwin posing at the cast announcement for the new "All Star Celebrity Apprentice, in New York. (AP Photo/Starpix, Kristina Bumphrey, file)
NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) - Stephen Baldwin will avoid jail and will have up to five years to pay $350,000 in back taxes and penalties, his lawyer said Monday.

Attorney Russell Yankwitt said he and prosecutors tentatively agreed that Baldwin, youngest of the four acting Baldwin brothers, will admit in court this month that he repeatedly failed to file his New York state income tax returns.

Baldwin, who starred in 1995's "The Usual Suspects" and is currently on television in "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice," is accused of skipping his 2008, 2009 and 2010 returns. When he was arrested in December, the district attorney said Baldwin could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

But at Monday's closed-door conference at the Rockland County Courthouse, "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."

Baldwin, 46, of Upper Grandview, was not at the conference.

Prosecutor Anthony Dellicarri confirmed that a tentative agreement had been reached on a plea deal but would not detail the specifics. The district attorney's office said only that a possible resolution of the case was discussed.

Yankwitt said that if Baldwin pays back the money within a year, the case will be discharged on the condition he stay out of trouble. If Baldwin doesn't meet the one-year deadline, he will be sentenced to probation and given five years to pay back the money.

The lawyer said the exact amount to be paid was still being negotiated but was "in the ballpark" of $350,000.

Yankwitt, asked how Baldwin would get the money, 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 if they were helping Stephen, he said only, "Mr. Baldwin is thankful for the love and support of his family."

Yankwitt said 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."