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Ex-CATS board member denies fraud allegations

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputies recently arrested and charged a former Capital Area Transit System board member with theft after he allegedly spent about $1,500 in CATS funds to pay personal cable TV and cellphone bills. According to the warrant, the man performed the crime through access device fraud while he was a board member.

The man allegedly took a check from the CEO's desk and used the routing and account numbers to pay his personal bills. According to sheriff's deputies, after he was informed of his Miranda rights the former official said he thought the check belonged to the CEO and not the transit system but that he did not recall all of the payments he made with the acccount information he took.

The former official resigned his position in July because of sickness and has denied the allegations that he misused the funds. He was held in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison before posting $6,500 in bail. If found guilty of theft, the man would face up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,000 or both. A conviction for device access fraud also could bring 5 years imprisonment, a fine up to $3,000 or both.

Anyone accused of deception, including criminal fraud charges, faces significant penalties such as the possibility of imprisonment. Considering that the man held an important public position, his reputation is at stake and will suffer badly if he is convicted.

In a case such as this in which a person's integrity is being questioned, the accused needs to mount an aggressive defense. Cases involving fraud require considerable knowledge of the law; representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney has the best chance of providing a good outcome.

Source: NOLA.com, "Former CATS board member booked on theft, fraud charges," Quincy Hodges, Sep. 17, 2013

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