A 35-year-old Laguna Beach man pleaded guilty today (Friday, Sept. 14) to stealing a $110,000 tax refund and was immediately sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Stephen Reginald McDow pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft of lost property with a sentencing enhancement for taking property more than $65,000.
McDow has paid back the money from the tax refund that was mistakenly put into his bank account, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
According to court records, McDow could avoid jail time by doing 256 hours of community service and is due back in court on March 14, 2014, for a progress report.
McDow was also put on 18 months of formal probation.
When McDow was charged last year, Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart said an unnamed Los Angeles woman filed in August of 2010 for a $110,012 tax refund, but forgot to tell her accountant not to have the money routed to a Citibank account she closed in 2004.
Her accountant unknowingly put in the routing number to the old account, which McDow had since been assigned, and he received the money instead, the prosecutor said.
In previous years, the woman had not had a refund coming to her, so the closed account had not been an issue, the prosecutor said.
When she did not receive her federal tax refund, the woman asked her accountant in December of 2010 to investigate what happened, Lockhart said.
The woman's attorneys sent McDow a letter with instructions on how to return the money, but McDow said he had spent all but $40,000 of it on car and student loans and to save his home from foreclosure, Lockhart said.
McDow said he would return the $40,000 and asked to be put on a payment plan of $200 a month, but then ignored several attempts to retrieve the money, Lockhart said.
-- City News Service