TN man’s conviction upheld, sentence vacated in Mitt Romney tax returns case

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Franklin man’s conviction for trying to extort $1 million from an accounting firm working for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, but vacated his four-year prison sentence, reports the Nashville Post.

A Nashville federal jury last year found Michael Mancil Brown guilty for a 2012 scheme in which he falsely claimed that he had gained access to then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, threatening to release them unless the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers paid a $1 million Bitcoin ransom, according to testimony at trial.

Brown, represented by Bone McAllester Norton attorney Alex Little on appeal, argued that the Secret Service did not have probable cause for the search warrant that led to key evidence in the case and that a sentencing enhancement triggered by an obstruction of justice charge was improperly applied. Little declined to comment when reached by the Post Monday.

The appeals court panel rejected the first argument in upholding the conviction, while accepting the second argument, in turn remanding the case to the Nashville district court for resentencing.

According to court proceedings, Brown had sent a letter to the Franklin offices of PwC in the months ahead of the 2012 election demanding the accounting firm pay $1 million, or else he would release the tax returns. Similar letters were sent to local Republican and Democratic party offices, though no evidence that Brown ever possessed the tax documents ever surfaced.

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