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3 Baton Rouge state auditors charged with white collar crimes

Evidence is just as important to a criminal defendant's case as it is to prosecutors. It's essential for a defense attorney to enter a white collar crime case as soon as a Louisiana defendant suspects or knows he or she will be charged. Early retention of legal counsel helps defendants avoid mistakes, like self-incrimination, and gives attorneys valuable time to review and dispute evidence.

Three Baton Rouge state auditors have been charged by the federal government with corrupt practices. The ex-employees of the state's Children Family Services department allegedly misused corporate charge cards and manipulated documents for personal gain. The most recent fraud charges were brought against a 33-year-old man, whose duties included monitoring fraud for the CFS department.

Federal prosecutors said the defendant and his boss, the director of auditing, were reimbursed and split funds supplied by the state for business-related trips the men never took. Instead, the defendants reportedly used purchasing cards to charge personal expenses, including excursions to New Orleans for a sporting event and Mardi Gras. The third, female defendant reportedly helped create fraudulent reimbursement paperwork, starting in 2010.

Each former state worker faces different charges. The 34-year-old audit director was charged with more than three dozen counts each of malfeasance in office and possession of stolen items. The 38-year-old female defendant was charged with theft.

A federal program fraud charge was lodged against the most recently arrested defendant. A conviction could send the former managing auditor to prison for up to a decade, while the government seizes his assets. The man also may be fined $250,000 and ordered to pay restitution.

Governments hold nothing back to prosecute defendants charged with misusing taxpayers' money. Penalties -- extensive financial punishment and lengthy prison time – are severe. A defense attorney must have the resources and time to discredit prosecutors' claims and obtain an acquittal, charge reduction or sentence reduction for a defendant.

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

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