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FBI: Ex-Baton Rouge producer sold fake movie tax credits

Allegations of theft in Louisiana apply to everything from snatched purses and stolen cars to elaborate fraud. The value of the allegedly stolen object determines the seriousness of the charges and, with conviction, the punishments that follow.

An ex-movie producer and Baton Rouge hospital owner is in trouble with two federal agencies. The man is accused of scamming investors out of $1.4 million in a sale of motion picture tax credits, which apparently did not rightfully belong to the defendant.

Federal investigators said the 46-year-old man claimed in emails to a Louisiana investment firm that he owned and wanted to sell transferrable film tax credits. The Federal Bureau of Investigations stated the defendant spent more than a year engaged in fraudulent activities to take money from the investment company.

Under Louisiana law, motion picture tax credits can be used a single time to reduce a film company's state tax burden. The credits may be sold to others, who can accomplish the same goal, or cashed in with the state for a discounted rate.

The state detected a flaw in ownership, when the investment company tried to use the credits. Prosecutors said the defendant sold tax credits and forged signatures that belonged to other people.

A conviction on a wire fraud charge comes with a possible fine of $250,000 and prison sentence of up to 20 years. Federal officials want a conviction to include an asset seizure of more than $971,000. The defendant is also wrangling with the Internal Revenue Service over $4.3 million in employee taxes the Internal Revenue Service claims he never paid.

Intent is a common thread among theft cases, including fraud charges. Did the defendant purposely take something that deprived the owner from ever having it again? The answer to that question can mean the difference between a charge dismissal or reduction and conviction, with an enormous fine and a lengthy prison term.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Former BR movie producer charged on federal wire fraud count" Bill Lodge, Oct. 09, 2013

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