News and Press Releases


September 6, 2011
CONTACT:  Patrick Crosby
FAX (404)581-6160

Defendant Obtained Over $300,000 Based on Fraudulent Returns

            ATLANTA, GA - MICHAEL THORNTON, 41, of Union City, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. to federal prison for tax fraud.

            United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “With increasingly tight government budgets, tax fraud increases the strain on hard-working American citizens by diverting scarce dollars from needed services to the pockets of tax cheats and criminals.  This defendant, acting as a tax preparer for numerous friends and co-workers, stole hundreds of thousands in tax refunds that the IRS never owed.”

            IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael McDaniel said, “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to aggressively pursue those who prepare false returns for the purpose of enriching themselves at the expense of innocent taxpayers.”

             THORNTON was sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in prison to be followed by 1 year of supervised release, and ordered to pay $319,242 in restitution. THORNTON was convicted of these charges on June 16, 2011 after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

            According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  THORNTON worked as an operations manager at a collection agency from 2005 through 2007.  While in that position, he prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns for numerous co-workers and associates.  Disregarding the information given to him by the taxpayers, THORNTON inflated their incomes and fabricated deductions on the returns to obtain tax refunds that were not truly owed.  THORNTON did not list himself as the preparer, review the returns with the taxpayers, or give the taxpayers a copy of the returns, purposefully impeding the detection of his fraud.  THORNTON charged between $150 and $650 for each return, and also had some of the refund checks deposited in his personal bank account.  When the IRS requested verification from THORNTON’s company for the wages claimed on the fraudulent returns, THORNTON attempted to submit a fraudulent verification consistent with the bogus wages, but was caught by the company’s owner and fired before he could do so.  THORNTON filed over 340 returns for the 2005 and 2006 tax years.  IRS agents examined a number of those returns and identified over $1.8 million in false items claimed by THORNTON, resulting in a tax loss to the government of nearly $320,000.  THORNTON also filed a fraudulent personal return for himself in the 2005 tax year.

            This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

            Assistant United States Attorney Stephen H. McClain prosecuted the case.

            For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is




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