MILLERSBURG -- She failed to take advantage of an eight-month opportunity to pay restitution, and for that, a Coshocton woman is going to jail for keeping another woman's federal and state tax returns.
Corinna M. Ozuna, 44, of 44980 County Road 19, previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to a single count of theft.
A previously scheduled sentencing date was continued to allow Ozuna to repay the $1,431 she owes the victim, but has only paid $100 toward the obligation.
Other bills and a period of unemployment, Ozuna said, prevented her from making more of an effort; however, the full $1,118 of her own anticipated tax returns, she intends to apply to restitution.
Nevertheless, Holmes County Assistant Prosecutor F. Christopher Oehl said at the rate Ozuna has been going, it would take 13 years to make the victim whole. "We have promises, but no payments made," he said.
"You've given this individual enough time to make payments, but all we've gotten are explanations and excuses," said Oehl, asking for the imposition of a jail term.
Rinfret agreed with Oehl, telling Ozuna, "I understand you have bills, but this was your primary bill. This is something you could have done back in June (when Ozuna was arrested)."
He sentenced Ozuna to 180 days in the Holmes County Jail, with work release, but said he would consider granting her an early release from jail once she fully satisfies her financial obligation.
He also placed her on three years of community control sanctions and warned her that a violation of such could trigger the imposition of an 11-month prison term.
The charge stems from a January 2016 incident.
That's when Ozuna allegedly filed the tax returns she prepared for a 59-year-old acquaintance.
Millersburg Police Department launched an investigation after being contacted by the victim, who reported, after not receiving her anticipated refund, that tax authorities indicated to her the refunds had been made, but to an account other than her own, said Detective Jeff Lay.
The woman said she'd previously relied on Ozuna to prepare her tax returns, with no issue.
Police reviewed Killbuck Savings Bank statements to confirm that the refunds, totaling $1,431, had been deposited into Ozuna's account, said Lay. He noted investigators found no evidence Ozuna had similarly defrauded anyone else.
Numerous attempts by law enforcement to contact and interview Ozuna were unsuccessful, and the case was forwarded to the Holmes County Prosecutor's Office, which filed charges and brought the case before a grand jury, which issued an indictment for felony theft.
At the time she prepared the taxes, Ozuna said she was drinking and inadvertently listed her own bank account's routing information on the electronically filed return, said defense attorney Jeff Kellogg. He added that when the money was subsequently deposited into Ozuna's account, she spent it, rather than giving it to the victim.
Had she done that immediately or shortly thereafter, Kellogg said, he believes no criminal charges would have been filed.
"She was reckless when she did the return, but then she never got the money to the victim," said Kellogg, who added it was only after realizing the return was well overdue did the victim contact law enforcement.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.