Archive for July 8, 2009

Alleged Tax Fraud results in indictment of Lafayette business owner on 15 felony charges

On Monday, June 29, 2009, Lafayette business owner, Eric Cloutier, of 232 Winchester Drive in Lafayette, was indicted on 15 felony charges including: two counts of theft over $500.00, two counts of computer fraud, two counts of obstruction of justice, four counts of filing false public records, one count of money laundering over $100,000.00, one count of racketeering, one count of failure to account for state tax moneys and one count of tax evasion.

The indictment stems from a joint nine-month investigation involving the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the Investigative Service Unit of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC).  Cloutier, a former professional hockey player who played for the Lafayette-based Louisiana IceGators, was arrested by ATC officers on February 26, 2009, and charged initially with 505 felony counts related to tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering. 

The crimes are alleged to have taken place at Marley’s Downtown, a sports bar in Lafayette, and Karma, a Lafayette nightclub.  Cloutier is part owner of each establishment.  Evidence indicates that Cloutier laundered as much as $1.4 million through these businesses over the course of nearly three years.

Initial complaints received by the Lafayette City Police Department were referred to ATC, who requested assistance from CID in conducting the investigation. Cloutier is accused of electronically manipulating his cash registers to conceal sales transactions. Investigators allege the scheme allowed Cloutier to commit tax fraud and money laundering through both businesses by filing false sales and use tax returns with the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government. He is accused of failing to remit sales taxes to Lafayette Parish and to the State of Louisiana.

Cloutier is being prosecuted in the 15th Judicial District Court by the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General.  He is scheduled for arraignment in Lafayette on August 18. 

Cloutier faces an administrative hearing with ATC on July 14 regarding revocation of the liquor licenses for Marley’s Downtown and Karma.