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Inmate Who Got $359,000 Check By Mistake Is Indicted

August 20, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service mailed a prison inmate who allegedly owed $2 million in back taxes a refund check for $359,380.25, the agency said.

Joseph H. Hale, 45, an inmate in Tallahassee, Fla., was indicted Wednesday for fraud for allegedly failing to return the check.

Also indicted by the grand jury in Atlanta was Ann W. McRee, 43, of Atlanta, who is accused of helping Hale dispose of the money.

Each faces a maximum prison term of 65 years.

The IRS was trying to collect $2 million in back taxes from Hale in 1985, when he began serving an unrelated five-year prison term for fraud. But because of a computer error, the refund check was mailed to Hale’s home in Atlanta, and forwarded to him in prison.

After two years of searching, the IRS said it found $55,558.34 of its money and wants the rest.

″It was a mistake,″ said Les Witmer, IRS spokesman for the Southeast. ″It was a computer mistake. Apparently a claim for refund was filed and apparently it was honored. A refund somehow went out.″

Hale, who owned a precious metals company, was convicted in December 1984 on charges of defrauding shareholders, falsifying minutes, filing false and misleading reports and perjury.

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