Cloutier pleads “No Contest” to tax-related crimes

BATON ROUGE – A Lafayette businessman pleaded “No Contest” to tax evasion and obstruction of justice in an agreement with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) announced Thursday.

Eric Cloutier entered the plea in 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette.  

Cloutier, a former owner of Karma nightclub and Marley’s Downtown sports bar in Lafayette, surrendered the licenses for those businesses as part of the plea.

After an investigation involving LDR’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, ATC enforcement agents arrested Cloutier in February following allegations that he manipulated the cash registers in his bars to avoid remitting sales taxes to Lafayette Parish and to the State of Louisiana.  He initially faced more than 500 felony counts including theft, fraud, and obstruction of justice.  He pleaded “No Contest” on Thursday, November 12, 2009 to one count of tax evasion and one count of obstruction of justice connected to the destruction of more than 300 tax-related documents.

As a condition of his plea agreement, Cloutier paid a tax liability of more than $200,000 including interest and penalties to Lafayette Parish and the State of Louisiana.  In addition, the court ordered Cloutier to pay the cost of the investigation and prosecution of this case assessed at $10,000.  He was ordered also to pay more than $1,400 in fines and court costs. 

Cloutier will serve two years of active supervised probation.

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