LIMESTONE, Maine — A Limestone man was sentenced Friday for felony theft after procuring an income tax refund check that did not belong to him and convincing someone else to cash it for him.
Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney John Pluto said Monday that Timothy Burns, 43, was convicted after a jury trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou earlier this month. He was sentenced by Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter.
According to Pluto, Burns’ marriage broke up in 2006 and his estranged spouse moved to the Lewiston-Auburn area. The couple filed a joint tax return that year, but Burns’ spouse filed paperwork with the IRS to secure child support owed to her by Burns. That paperwork allowed her to get the entire refund check, even though they had filed jointly.
Pluto said Burns later contacted the IRS and told it to mail the check to his parents’ home in Limestone. He contacted a friend in April 2007 and gave her the signed check and asked her to cash it for him, as he did not have a bank account.
The friend cashed it at her bank, according to Pluto.
Burns’ spouse contacted the IRS after she did not receive the refund check. The IRS said it had been sent, and an investigation ensued.
The Caribou Police Department investigated the incident, according to Pluto.
The canceled check was traced back to the woman who had cashed it for Burns. She was not charged, but the bank held her accountable and took the money out of her account.
Burns’ spouse was sent a replacement check.
Burns was arrested and later indicted by the Aroostook County grand jury on charges of forgery and theft in November 2007.
The forgery charge eventually was dropped. The state, represented by Pluto, proceeded to trial on the felony theft charge. Burns was represented at the trial by Houlton attorney Jeff Pickering.
Burns was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison, followed by two years of probation. He was ordered to pay restitution of $3,680, which will go to both the bank and the woman who cashed the check for him, Pluto said Monday.