Chad Heins pleads guilty in tax fraud scheme

After being arrested and exonerated for the murder of his sister-in-law


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – He was locked up on murder charges for more than 13 years and then released when his conviction was overturned.

But Chad Heins' time as a free man has been put on hold. He's been arrested again on different charges.

Heins was originally convicted for murdering his sister-in-law in 1994, but DNA evidence showed someone else was responsible and he was released from prison in 2007.

When Chad Heins walked out of jail in December of 2007 he had advice for anyone who would listen.

"Stay out of the court system," Heins said.

Unfortunately for Heins, who moved back home to Wisconsin, he is back in jail, this time for income tax fraud.

Court documents show Heins was arraigned with another State of Florida inmate for splitting tax refunds from fraudulent tax returns totaling 1.25 million dollars.

Heins has a lengthy history with the criminal justice system dating back to 1994 when his sister-in-law Tina Heins was murdered.  Two years later Heins was convicted for her rape and murder but DNA evidence overturned that conviction.

But he wasn't done with the police. In 2010 Heins was arrested in Wisconsin for animal cruelty.

And now with the new charges, he faces a maximum 10 years in prison, as well as being required to pay the IRS back for the scammed money.

Heins was arrested along with five others who previously pleaded guilty in this case: Laura Wright, 71, of Lecanto; Tiffani Manning, 31, of Jacksonville; Silvester Bowens, 48, of Jacksonville; Christopher Wyant, 39, of Morristown, Tennessee; and Tabatha Dubois, 34, of Morristown.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said it's not unusual for people who have been in jail to wind up becoming involved in schemes with other people who are behind bars.

"That's quite common among prison inmates. People come in for various crimes and they'll share tips, sometimes they're in for the same crime. Or maybe their techniques are better and sometimes they'll come out better criminals then when they went in," Smith said.

Heins will be sentenced June 23.