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Louisiana white collar crime probe turns up tax issues

Defendants often don't feel like they have options, especially when they are accused of crimes by federal agents and prosecutors. Criminal defense attorneys protect defendants' rights and know the legal strategies that work. Understanding the legal problems you face can be the first step toward overcoming them.

A Louisiana man was arrested recently on charges he ran two businesses while collecting government benefits for disability. U.S. prosecutors said the 47-year-old also committed tax fraud during the operation of one of those businesses, an auto resale company.

An investigation into the Lafayette man's activities started in December 2013. The defendant had been receiving disability payments from the state and the Social Security Administration since February 2011. The man said he could not work due to back problems and anxiety issues.

The defendant reportedly collected $83,000 in benefits after claiming he had no income or ownership stake in any business. Federal investigators monitored the man almost 11 months before moving ahead with felony theft and fraud charges. Prosecutors stated the man was operating two businesses from his home, a siding company and the auto sales business.

State records showed A-1 Affordable Siding Inc., a company the defendant started in 1997, was still in business in April 2014. During an investigation of the auto business, state police learned the man failed to report the full sale price of vehicles purchased at car auctions and fixed up for resale. The resale prices were higher on receipts than they were on state tax forms.

Penalties for a felony theft conviction include a five to 20-year prison term and a fine as high as $50,000. The man also was accused of first-degree injuring public records and filing false public records, each of which could add fines up to $5,000 and prison sentences as long as five years.

With irrefutable evidence, mitigation of consequences can include charge dismissals and reductions negotiated through plea agreements.

Source: The Advocate, "State Police: Lafayette man collects federal dollars for anxiety, back problems but has siding, auto sales businesses" Lanie Lee Cook, Nov. 25, 2014

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