Alabama AG: 2 former state employees convicted of tax evasion, department of corrections assistant arrested
By Ben Culpepper
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced Thursday the conviction of two former state employees on tax evasion charges and the arrest another state employee in connection with an ongoing investigation.Michelle Irvin Zeigler, 50, of Prattville, and Judy Smith Horn, 48, of Montgomery, entered guilty pleas in circuit court earlier this week, and a Judge Truman Hobbs accepted their pleas, convicted them on tax evasion charges stemming from 2007 and 2008, respectively.Ziegler, a former personnel manager with the Department of Public Health, received a suspended two-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to one count of willful attempt to evade or defeat 2007 state income taxes and one count of using her position as a public employee to obtain personal gain. Ziegler avoided prison time, but she was placed on supervised probation for two years and ordered to pay $13,499.23 in restitution to the Department of Revenue. Horn, a former employee with the Alabama Department of Finance, was also given a two-year suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to one count of willful attempt to evade or defeat 2008 state income taxes. Like Ziegler, she was placed on supervised probation for two years and ordered to pay $6,065.13 in court costs and restitution."I am proud of the continuing accomplishments of the Special Prosecutions Alliance and the partnership between our Special Prosecutions Division and the Department of Revenue," Strange said. "Working in a cooperative effort such as this makes our prosecutions stronger and more effective. Together, we are sending a strong message that misrepresenting one's status or income to avoid paying taxes is a serious crime, and we stand steadfast to vigorously investigate and prosecute these cases."Strange announced the arrest of 54-year-old Shirley Jean Walters of Montgomery on four counts of state income tax evasion from 2008 through 2011 and one count of using her position as a public employee to obtain person gain. Walters, who worked as a personnel assistant with the Department of Corrections, allegedly used the Government Human Resources System to alter her income tax withholding status to "exempt" or "zero withholding" for her state wages. She has since been released from jail on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, Walters faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or fines not exceeding $100,000 for each count of tax evasion. She faces two to 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $30,000 for the ethics violation charge.Strange said more charges are expected to be filed in connection with an ongoing investigation into public corruption. The Attorney General's Special Prosecutions Division assisted the Department of Revenue in the prosecution of these cases.
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