Hearing on alcohol permits ends with suspect arrest for fraud

When someone can't get a license for an alcohol permit, he or she may improperly get another person to act as the owner. This is called using a "straw party" to create a shield to allow the real owner to continue in control. This was one of the issues involved at a Louisiana administrative hearing before an Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner regarding the alcohol permits of several Gentilly area gas station convenience stores. The hearing turned into a 10-hour round-robin jumble of issues dealing with the alleged fraud activities of basically one man and his ex-wife, who were prohibited from having any alcohol licenses due to the man's felony firearm and cocaine convictions.

The hearing also served as a bit of a trap set-up by Louisiana State Police who waited outside the hearing and busted the man on other related charges when he walked out. They arrested and booked him on white collar crime charges of insurance fraud and commercial bribery. Those charges stem from allegations made by a former employee who claimed the suspect ordered him to remove items from one of the stores. A tenant told insurance investigators that the suspect created a break-in to collect insurance payments.

Regarding the alcohol permits, the suspect had allegedly arranged with his wife to be the straw owner. Under Commissioner's questioning, the ex-wife changed her prior position and said that she didn't read or understand the statement she signed to get the alcohol permits, but merely signed whatever papers the lawyer handed to her. The statement she signed said that her spouse did not have a felony record.

Another side show occurred with the suspect's main competitor, who was there with his lawyers. His lawyers however were unable to get him to stop from insulting the suspect's lawyer or chiming in with comments. The Commissioner held the competitor in contempt. In Louisiana, there are at times cases that involve a complex cast of characters and a web of alleged fraud activities that must be defended as strongly as possible. The authorities will sometimes overstep their bounds when pursuing a particular individual, which can lead to viable defenses and to false charges that can be defeated.

Source: wwltv.com, Alcohol permit dispute grows heated, arrest made at hearing, David Hammer, Sept. 11, 2013

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