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Press Release

Former Assistant Prosecutor Charged with Tax Fraud, Theft of Government Money

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal grand jury has charged Michael (also known as Mickey) A. Prisley, 52, of Columbus, and Tawnya Writesel, also known as Tawnya Rutan, 38, of Columbus, with eight charges related to fraudulent tax claims and theft of government money in an indictment returned here Thursday and unsealed today.


Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue System (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Division, announced the charges.


The indictment alleges that Prisley and Writesel, along with others, conspired to submit false claims for income tax refunds.


Writesel would allegedly obtain the identification details of real people, including their names, social security numbers and dates of birth. Those individuals were then claimed as dependents, even though they were not actually dependents of the filers.


“Prisley allegedly received the tax refund checks into his bank accounts and then withdrew cash in order to pay his co-conspirators their shares,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “He received drugs and controlled substances in exchange for cashing the refund checks.”


It is also alleged that he provided others with false power of attorney forms so that his co-conspirators could cash fraudulently obtained tax refund checks without the listed taxpayer’s knowledge.

Prisley is a former assistant prosecuting attorney for Athens County.


“It is unfortunate that someone who was trusted to prosecute criminals is now on the other side of the table facing his own criminal allegations,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.


According to court documents, the defendants filed approximately 167 false and fictitious tax returns in order to obtain fraudulent refunds totaling roughly $901,500.


Co-defendants Amy K. France and Denard T. Nelson were also charged in relation to this case. France pleaded guilty in June 2016 to one count of conspiracy to submit false claims and one count of identity theft and was sentenced in January to 37 months in prison. France was also ordered to pay nearly $467,000 in restitution.


Nelson pleaded guilty in September 2015 to one count of identity theft and was sentenced in May 2016 to five years of probation. He was also ordered to pay more than $87,000 in restitution.


U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS Criminal Investigation, and Assistant United States Attorney Jessica H. Kim, who is prosecuting the case.


An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Updated November 6, 2017