Prairieville accountant fighting civil suit
A Prairieville accountant is fighting a civil suit that alleges he failed to verify the validity of expenses claimed by a moviemaker in order to borrow more than $1.5 million secured by Louisiana film tax credits.
Those tax credits were not honored by state officials, and the lender, Inner Media Capital, alleges in its court suit that accountant Clint Mock should cover the $1.5 million loss.
“Inner Media relied on (Mock’s) audit,” said Phillip W. Preis, the lender’s attorney, on Wednesday.
“We have learned that all (Mock) did was rely on a summary expenditure sheet,” Preis added. “He did not verify. We now know no film was made.”
The moviemaker, Daniel Garcia, of Mandeville, pleaded guilty in May to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Garcia admitted he bilked Louisiana’s taxpayers of approximately $900,000 in a separate scheme. Garcia is not yet scheduled for sentencing in that criminal case in Baton Rouge federal court.
Mock, the Prairieville accountant, also has offices in Baton Rouge.
He completed audit reports on film-production expenses for other clients whose film-tax credits were sold without authorization by former Baton Rouge movie producer Gregory M. Walker.
According to an FBI affidavit, Walker, who maintains the sale was simply a mistake, is under investigation because of the transaction.
Mock says in the civil suit pending against him in the 19th Judicial District Court of Judge Janice Clark, that he did nothing wrong regarding the accounting reports he provided one of Garcia’s firms, DMG Holdings LLC.
DMG used those reports, which confirmed qualifying expenditures for film tax credits, to coax $1.5 million in loans from Inner Media Capital, according to that firm’s suit against Mock.
Mock and one of his attorneys, Matthew M. McCluer, declined Wednesday to discuss Inner Media Capital’s suit.
They also declined to comment on Garcia and said little about Walker.
“Mr. Walker was never a client of mine,” Mock emphasized.
Mock added he has never been involved in the sale of any film tax credits.
Accountants are important to Louisiana’s film tax credit program, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Joshua C. Morrill. That affidavit was filed in support of a search warrant application for Walker’s email records.
A movie production company seeking film tax credits from the Louisiana Department of Economic Development must first submit “a cost report of production expenditures which has been audited and certified by an independent certified public accountant,” Morrill noted in his affidavit.
Walker, who once served on the Louisiana Board of Commerce, sold more than $971,000 in film tax credits that belonged to companies of four of Mock’s clients, the FBI affidavit shows.
A year ago, according to Morrill’s affidavit, Walker admitted in a recorded conversation that he forged another man’s signature to transfer certificates for those film tax credits.
Morrill also quoted Walker as saying he sold the owners’ tax credits because one of them “owed me some money, so I figured I’d make it up this way.”
Inner Media alleges in its suit against Mock that DMG withdrew audit reports by Mock after questions were raised by the Department of Economic Development about who received film production payments.
“Because of the withdrawal of the audits, no tax credits were certified on” the DMG expenditures audited by Mock, Inner Media Capital says in its suit.
In his court-filed response, Mock denies all of the lender’s significant allegations.
Mock also argues the case should be dismissed because it was filed later than permissible under state law.
If the case proceeds, Mock says in his response, he should be awarded a judgment against Inner Media Capital.