Due to the lapse in appropriations, Department of Justice websites will not be regularly updated. The Department’s essential law enforcement and national security functions will continue. Please refer to the Department of Justice’s contingency plan for more information.

Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 13, 2016

Tennessee Man Convicted for Romney Tax Return Fraud and Extortion Scheme

Michael Mancil Brown was found guilty late yesterday by a federal jury sitting in Nashville for engaging in an extortion and wire fraud scheme involving former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, First Assistant United States Attorney Jack Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee and Special Agent in Charge Todd Hudson of the U.S. Secret Service’s Nashville Field Office.

Brown, 37, of Franklin, Tennessee, was convicted 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.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a date likely in August.  The defendant faces up to twenty years in prison on the charges of wire fraud, up to five years in prison on the charges of extortion, fines of up to $250,000, and orders of restitution to victims.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service’s Nashville Field Office with assistance from the FBI’s Nashville Division. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Department of Justice Senior Counsel Anthony V. Teelucksingh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee. 

Topic(s): 
StopFraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
16-574
Updated August 10, 2016