Following two hours of deliberation, a jury of eight women and four men found Michael John “Mike” Cash, Sr. guilty of all 21 counts of the indictment. He was immediately taken into custody. Sentencing will be scheduled for sometime in the next two weeks.
After three days of listening to testimony, a Walton County jury began deliberating Friday afternoon in the case against Michael John “Mike” Cash, Sr. on two counts of violating the (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) RICO Act and 19 counts of converting funds collected for the benefit of the state.
Cash chose not to take the stand in his own defense.
During closing arguments, Attorney Brett Mizerak said in order to find Cash guilty, the jury had to find, “beyond a reasonable doubt” that there was a grand conspiracy between Cash and his wife, Deborah Cash, to knowingly work together to not pay sales tax for 19 of the months between June 2012 and May 2015. Both he and Chief Assistant District Attorney Randy McGinley told the jury that in order to find him guilty on the two RICO charges, they had to find that in at least two of those 19 months “he knowingly and intentionally conspired to not pay sales tax.”
Deborah Cash had testified Thursday in her husband’s defense.
“You heard Deborah say that she handled the sales tax and that her husband didn’t know anything about it,” Mizerak said. “You heard her accountant say he didn’t know about the sales tax liability and Lana, her personal assistant, didn’t know anything about it. Why is it such a stretch to believe he didn’t know anything about it. (Deborah) said she didn’t want him to know about it.”
Mizerak said that Deborah Cash had testified that she was not aware that in pleading guilty to the RICO Act that she was pleading guilty to knowingly and intentionally conspiring to not pay sales tax. She said she had bills to pay, payroll, utility bills, and had intended to pay the sales tax and had in fact paid some of the sales tax when she could.
“She filed every month, and she paid many more of the months that she didn’t. Would she have filed every month?” Mizerak said. “She thought that since they (the Georgia Department of Revenue) had worked with her for 20 years, they would continue to work with her.”
McGinley, in his closing arguments, said that it was impossible for Cash to not know during all that time sales tax was being collected and not paid. He pointed to the binders full of letters from the Department of Revenue that had been mailed to the home, the business, the post office box. He pointed to testimony by an employee with the Department of Revenue who had stopped by the business and asked to speak to them. Mike Cash had been aware she was there, but he left and the employee just spoke to his wife. He also told the jury that Mike Cash had more to do with the day-to-day business transactions than the defense had tried to present. He reminded them that regarding a loan application made on behalf of Mike Cash, Jr., Liberty Bank vice president, Lee Garrett, testified that it was Mike Cash, Sr. with whom he dealt.
“You can’t claim you did not know when it keeps happening,” McGinley said. He also contended that Deborah Cash was lying when she said her husband did not know about the sales tax issues the company was dealing with.
Both he and Mizerak had explained “deliberate ignorance” to the jury since it was one of the charges that Judge Samuel Ozburn was explaining to the jury in their instruction. He said the evidence had shown that Mike Cash was involved in the business and he couldn’t bury his head in the sand and say he didn’t know what was happening.
“The entire business was always Mike Cash,” McGinley said. “It should have been shut down years ago. They tried to work with them over and over and over again. Mr. and Mrs. Cash were running this business on the taxpayers’ dime.”