Michael Mancil Brown was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tenn., for allegedly engaging in an extortion and wire fraud scheme involving former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Todd Hudson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Nashville Field Office.
Brown, 34, of Franklin, Tenn., was charged in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee with six counts of wire fraud and six counts of extortion.
The indictment alleges that Brown devised 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.
According to the indictment, Brown allegedly caused a letter to be delivered in August 2012 to the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Franklin. The letter 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.
The indictment alleges that Brown delivered similar letters to the offices of the Democratic and Republican parties in Franklin and caused similar statements to be posted to Pastebin.com.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Nashville Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service with assistance from the Nashville Resident Agency of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted Senior Counsel Anthony V. Teelucksingh of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee.