Man exonerated for murder accused of tax fraud

Wood County Sheriff's Department booking photo of Chad Heins from 2010 arrest
Wood County Sheriff's Department booking photo of Chad Heins from 2010 arrest

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man released after he was wrongly convicted of murder has now been indicted by a federal grand jury for tax fraud.

Chad Heins is alleged to have filed $127,000 worth of fraudulent tax returns between 2007 and 2011.

He's one of six people facing charges of theft of public money and aiding and abetting the theft of public money. Each charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years.

According to the indictment, Heins and the other five suspects agreed, combined and conspired with each other and inmates Ronald Rodgers, John Wright and others to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by obtaining and attempting to obtain the payment of false federal income tax refunds.

According to the indictment, the amounts claimed on the federal income tax returns included expected income tax refunds ranging between $5,762 and $24,794. It was part of the conspiracy that Rodgers and other people would cause the IRS to send fraudulently obtained income tax refunds via direct deposit, into several accounts opened and controlled by some of the conspirators, including Heins. The intended losses totaled about $6.8 million.

In 1996, Heins, then 22, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1994 murder of his pregnant sister-in-law, Tina Heins.

He spent 13 years in custody for the murder for which he was eventually exonerated because of DNA evidence found on the victim that proved someone other than Heins was present when the murder was committed.

This isn't the first time Heins has been accused of a crime since his release from prison. In July 2010, he was arrested in his hometown in Wisconsin on animal cruelty charges.

According to police and court documents, Heins was with his two children when police said he intentionally mistreated a cat by throwing it in the garbage after hitting it with his car. The cat survived.

Heins pleaded no contest and paid a fine.