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Producer pleads not guilty to Louisiana film tax credit fraud

In order to lure film companies and revenue to the state, Louisiana offers tax credits to productions who set up shop or shoot their films here. Many film production companies have come to the state as a result of the attractive credits, but one of them is facing charges that it never fulfilled its end of the bargain. The company’s CEO is facing six counts of felony tax credit fraud and was arraigned June 20.

In this white collar crime case, the company is being accused of misusing $1.13 million worth of tax credits to rehab an old house in the city of New Orleans and turn it into a post-production studio. Prosecutors are claiming that the company promised work that wasn’t ever done. Instead, they claim that the film company used shady banking practices to make it look like they’d issued payments for filming equipment and construction contracts that were, in fact, never made.

For his part, the CEO insists that everything was aboveboard and that every action for which he received a tax credit was completed as promised. A former employee, who apparently worked for the company in London for a short time, claimed he was in possession of evidence to the contrary. The CEO filed suit against this employee for defamation and, as evidence, he produced photos showing all the improvements that he’d made to the building. He also produced documents proving the company was eligible for the credits and several newspaper articles detailing the company’s work on the building. This is all evidence he may use at his federal trial.

Charges like these carry serious penalties, so if you’re facing allegations of fraud, contracting a Louisiana attorney may be the best way to secure a favorable outcome.

Source: deadline.com, “Seven Arts Founder Peter Hoffman Pleads Not Guilty To Tax Credit Fraud In Louisiana," David Robb, June 20, 2014

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