Two scientists have been charged with attempting to steal valuable trade secrets from the Louisiana-based Water Institute of the Gulf. The Baton Rouge hydrology research facility develops computer models designed to determine how environmental changes could affect the Mississippi River Delta. The information is used to earn seven-figure contracts. The two men were indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and computer fraud charges on May 31. The indictments were sealed until the men were taken into custody on June 4. U.S. attorneys announced the indictments on June 5.
Louisiana residents are likely aware that Michael Avenatti has been charged by federal prosecutors in multiple states with a raft of felony counts including extortion, wire fraud, and money laundering. The controversial litigator suffered yet another legal setback on May 22 when U.S. attorneys in New York charged him with identity theft and fraud over his dealings with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
A 32-year-old Louisiana woman who admitted to faking her own kidnapping has been sentenced to 41 months in prison. The woman learned of her fate during an April 17 sentencing hearing held in a district court in East Feliciana Parish. Court records indicate that the Hammond resident entered a guilty plea to a charge of wire fraud in January.
On April 5, a 55-year-old Louisiana business owner entered a guilty plea in federal court to a single count of wire fraud. He submitted a total of eight false applications to three different finance companies, and his fraud netted him $294,000. The owner of Ameritek Office Solutions acknowledged that there were no sales or deliveries of office equipment.
Michael Avenatti became a familiar face on television screens in Louisiana and around the country in 2018 when he filed lawsuits against President Trump and attorney Michael Cohen on behalf of adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels has since fired Avenatti, and the 48-year-old litigator's fortunes took another turn for the worse on March 25 when he was taken into custody in New York on extortion charges and charged in Los Angeles with embezzlement. The beleaguered attorney faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Louisiana residents who have been following the Justice Department's investigation into alleged collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government will likely know that the only person brought to trial so far by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the president's former campaign chief Paul Manafort. Federal guidelines recommended a custodial sentence of between 19 and 24 years for the eight counts Manafort was found guilty of, but a federal judge in Virginia chose to send Manafort to prison for 47 months instead. He also imposed a $50,000 fine and ordered Manafort to make restitution in the amount of $24.8 million.
The US Attorneys Office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana scored a major victory against a Baton Rouge doctor for submitting false Medicare claims. The doctor entered a guilty plea of conspiracy to commit health care fraud involving several millions of dollars. The doctor has not yet been sentenced but will most likely face jail time. The case was prosecuted in federal court rather than state court, presumably because Medicare claims were involved.
Insurance contracts are basically private contracts between the insurer or the insurance company and the insured. People in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who are contemplating a scam on an insurance company should be aware that this may be a criminal offense. It is generally considered a white collar crime, but this has no effect on penalties involved.
A 39-year-old Louisiana man faces decades behind bars after pleading guilty to three counts of wire fraud on Jan. 7. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. The Bossier City resident is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2. Prosecutors say that he stole more than $180,000 from Walmart, Target and Sam's Club stores. The matter was being heard by a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
The Louisiana State Police has arrested a member of the state tax commission on charges related to financial misconduct. Following an investigation by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and the LSP Criminal Investigation Division, the 51-year-old man was taken in on Jan. 11 on suspicion of fraud and malfeasance.