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Third state fraud auditor faces federal corruption charges

Financial and other white-collar crimes are serious offenses that often get the attention of a grand jury before charges are ever filed. In Louisiana, white-collar crimes such as forgery, money laundering and embezzlement are typically investigated by state authorities who track down and assemble evidence before a suspect is arrested and charged. When the alleged crimes involve larger amounts of money or interstate commerce, federal authorities will also investigate, and often a defendant will go to trial on federal charges.

In one ironic twist, an employee in charge of auditing fraud for the state's Department of Children Family Services was recently arrested himself on federal fraud charges. The 33-year-old Baton Rouge resident became the third employee from that agency to recently face charges. He allegedly worked with his supervisor to commit fraudulent acts such as using purchasing cards to book hotels during the NBA's All-Star Weekend in New Orleans and Mardi Gras as well as to buy various personal items.

Court records show the man is alleged to have filed fraudulent documents that were signed by the supervisor for reimbursement of travel expenses never incurred. Once the state approved the reimbursement, the auditor and the supervisor split the money. If convicted, the defendant could face as many as 10 years in prison, be fined $250,000 and be forced to pay restitution.

For fraud charges involving large sums of money, a defendant who is convicted can serve time in federal prison as well as lose some of his or her assets. Anyone accused of a white-collar crime should therefore take the charges seriously and understand that because the alleged offenses are usually quite complex, they are often difficult to defend against without the right legal help. Most defendants find navigating the justice system too difficult to avoid the very worst consequences on their own.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Louisiana state auditor whose job was to investigate fraud arrested on fraud charges," Emily Lane, June 12, 2014

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