FL Prison Inmate Charged with Tax Fraud

Federal authorities on Wednesday indirectly answered a question in Michael W. Joseph’s case by charging him with tax fraud.

On Nov. 13, 2009, Joseph, 53, a resident of the Department of Corrections in Jackson County, was charged in Marianna with a state felony of organized fraud. He was accused of preparing and mailing to the IRS numerous fraudulent tax returns, using the names and social security numbers of his fellow inmates, to defraud the government of more than $50,000.

State Attorney Glenn Hess brought the case to trial last February, but after picking a jury the trial came to a halt when Circuit Judge William Wright granted a defense motion to preclude the state from introducing any evidence from the fraudulent tax returns seized by the state.

The defense argued that federal law prohibited testimony and evidence from tax returns and witnesses who revealed information from these forms could face felony prosecution.

Hess argued that the law was not intended to apply to fraudulent tax forms, nor to be used to prohibit the prosecution of someone charged with filing fraudulent tax returns.

Hess appealed Wright’s ruling to the First District Court of Appeals, which has yet to decide the matter. Joseph, who was serving a two-year prison term for a grand theft out of Hillsborough County, is set to be released July 20.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Joseph on:

○ one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government
○ 17 counts of submitting false claims
○ 1 count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud
○ 17 counts of theft of government property

Upon his release from prison, marshals will take Joseph into custody pending the outcome of his federal trial. The state charges will remain in place as well until the District Court of Appeals issues an opinion.

Hess has said that he will take the case to trial again once the District Court of Appeals clears up this issue.

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