A man who claimed to have stolen former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns from PricewaterhouseCoopers and threatened to expose them has been convicted on extortion and fraud charges.
Michael Mancil Brown, 37, of Franklin, Tenn., was found guilty last Thursday by a federal jury in Nashville for engaging in an extortion and wire fraud scheme involving Romney’s tax returns. Brown was convicted of six counts of wire fraud and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion.
Evidence recovered from Brown’s computer in 2012 implicated him in a scheme to defraud Romney, PwC and others by falsely claiming that he had gained access to PwC’s computer network and stolen tax documents for Romney and his wife, Ann, for tax years prior to 2010.
The PwC offices in Franklin letter received a letter in August 2012 demanding that $1 million worth of the digital currency Bitcoin be deposited in a Bitcoin account to stop the purportedly stolen Romney tax returns from being released.
The letter also invited interested parties who wanted the Romney tax returns 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 similar statements were posted on a sie called Pastebin.com.
A sentencing hearing for Brown is likely to occur in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges, up to five years in prison on the extortion charges, fines of up to $250,000, and orders of restitution to the victims.
Romney eventually released his tax returns in September 2012 ahead of the November 2012 presidential election. In recent months he has called on Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2016 election, to release his tax returns, warning Trump's tax return might contain a "bombshell," but Trump has insisted he cannot release the returns until the IRS has finished auditing them (see Trump Doesn't Expect to Release Tax Returns by November).
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