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Louisiana official charged with payroll fraud, other crimes

Did a state official commit fraud or has he been accused because someone wants him ousted from his civil service job?

That's what a Louisiana jury might be tasked with determining down the road.

The man, who is the lead administrator of the Louisiana Tax Commission, was arrested and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish prison recently. He was charged with one count of public payroll fraud, one count of malfeasance and 63 counts of maintaining or filing false public records.

The charges stem from accusations that the 51-year-old Baton Rouge man was paid for hours he said he was working but really was enjoying leisure-time activities, such as golf. He also was accused of driving a state rental car for personal, not state, business.

The arrest warrant states that he was under surveillance for a week in July and "was observed playing golf on several different occasions at multiple golf courses. He was also observed shopping, visiting a spa, attending court in Livingston Parish on a personal matter and consuming alcoholic beverages," according to The Advocate.

According to the surveillance, the man was in his office for one hour and 40 minutes that week. His time card for the week reflected 32 hours of work and eight hours of leave. The paperwork gathered in the case also includes other time cards, as well as cellphone, bank and rental car records.

His attorney, however, told The Advocate that the charges are an attempt to boot him from the job he has held more than 10 years. Since it is difficult to remove a civil servant from office, the attorney said this was a different tactic to take to try to get him out of his job.

She added that some of his visits to golf courses could have been business-related.

This will be an interesting case to watch going forward. According to The Advocate, the man has some issues in his personal life that could be a poor reflection on the state. Those issues have nothing to do with his job performance, however, and he deserves a chance to defend himself against these charges.

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