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Investigator: Local prosecutor owes thousands in back taxes

Local prosecutor years behind in paying his taxes.
Attorney Michael O'Shea

A suburban prosecutor has run up a number of liens for not paying tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

Rocky River Prosecutor Mike O'Shea is in debt to both the state and federal government, reports The Investigator Tom Meyer.

The Ohio attorney general's Ooffice says that O'Shea, who also is the law director for the city of Rocky River, has failed to pay a significant portion of his personal income taxes to the state since 2006. With penalties and fees, his debt now stands at $36,874.

The state has filed annual liens as O'Shea's debt accumulated.

When questioned, O'Shea said he also owes the federal government about $30,000 in income taxes.

"There will be people out there who will say, 'For gosh sakes, I've got to pay my taxes, why isn't the chief prosecutor in Rocky River paying his taxes or keeping up with them?' " O'Shea said. "Well, let me say this: they are right to be upset about it."

It would seem that O'Shea could afford to pay his taxes. He drives a new SUV and lives in a house in Rocky River that he and his wife bought for $425,000 in 2004. And he has a private law office at Beachcliff Market Square in Rocky River.

O'Shea blames his failure to pay all his taxes on college tuition obligations for his children and on business-related problems that he says were exacerbated by the economic downturn.

"This is what's killing the budget," he says.

But he admits he has dropped the ball:

"To be honest with you, Tom, I should have taken care of this a long time ago," he said.

Now taxpayers are footing the bill to collect O'Shea's state income taxes, as the Ohio Attorney General has hired an outside law firm to do so.

"It's a private law firm. In my mind, it probably did something politically to get the business if you know what I mean," O'Shea says.

The attorney general's office says it is common to turn to outside debt collectors when all else fails but that the office is still in discussions with O'Shea about how he will pay off his state taxes.

O'Shea says he has worked out a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service and has reduced his debt from about $70,000 to $30,000.

The IRS declined comment.