Inmate pleads guilty in $50,000 government scam

Published On: Jan 04 2013 11:17:18 AM EST
PANAMA CITY, Fla. -

A prison inmate has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $50,000 from the government by using the identities of other inmates for false tax returns.

The News-Herald of Panama City reports Michael William Joseph III pleaded guilty to 41 charges including stealing government money, mail fraud and false tax returns on Thursday.

He is scheduled for a March 20 sentencing hearing where he faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud charge.

Investigators say he submitted nearly $180,000 in false tax return claims from 2006 through 2008 while incarcerated at the Apalachee Correctional Institute in Sneads.

The government paid $51,298 of the claims. Investigators say they recovered $17,000 from his bank account and $11,600 buried in his mother's back yard in Tampa.

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