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January 27, 2023

Guy Who Tried to Ransom Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns Regretting His Choices Right About Now

Are you frustrated by Donald Trump's evasive attitude about releasing his tax returns?

Were you and some co-conspirators considering a harebrained scheme to claim that you had obtained copies of his returns and would demand a ransom to prevent their release?

While this may sound like foolproof plan, may I suggest you reconsider? I only bring it up because the great Mitt Romney 2012 tax return caper earned a conviction that you might want to know about.

Last week, a Nashville jury found Michael Mancil Brown guilty of "six counts of wire fraud and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion":

According to testimony at trial, evidence recovered from a computer seized from the home of Brown in 2012 implicated Brown in a scheme to defraud Romney, the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and others by falsely claiming that he had gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers internal computer network and had stolen tax documents for Romney and his wife, Ann D. Romney, for tax years prior to 2010.

Brown was found guilty of participating in the scheme in which a letter delivered in August 2012 to the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Franklin demanded that $1 million worth of the digital currency Bitcoin be deposited to a specific Bitcoin account to prevent the release of the purportedly stolen Romney tax returns.  The letter also invited interested parties who wanted the allegedly stolen Romney tax documents to be released to contribute $1 million to another Bitcoin account.

As part of that scheme, similar letters were delivered to the offices of the Democratic and Republican parties in Franklin and caused similar statements to be posted to Pastebin.com.

Brown faces up to 20 years for the wire fraud and 5 years for the extortion charges So, again, if something like this has crossed your mind, go back to the drawing board.

[DOJ, TaxProf]

 

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