Authorities in New York announced on Thursday that they were forced to take "strong enforcement measures" and arrest actor and conservative activist Stephen Baldwin for failing to file his 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax returns.


Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe and New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox said that Baldwin had been charged with a class “E” Felony of one count of Repeated Failure to File Personal Income Tax Returns, according to a press release from the Rockland County District Attorney's office.

Baldwin was accused of owing "more than $350,000" to the state of New York after penalties and interest.

"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," Zugibe said. "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. My Office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who cheat our tax system for their personal gain."

Mattox pointed out that it was "rare and unfortunate for a personal income tax case to require such strong enforcement measures in order to ensure compliance with our tax laws."

Baldwin was arraigned in Nyack Justice Court on Thursday and released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 5, 2013.

The actor could spend up to four years in state prison if found guilty.

[Photo: Rockland County District Attorney's office]