Prosecutor alleges more investors enticed with tax credits

Former Baton Rouge businessman Gregory M. Walker, who has admitted defrauding buyers of $1.4 million in Louisiana film tax credits that he did not own, allegedly enticed $325,000 from other investors in July.

At the time, Walker, 47, and his attorneys already were in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors in the larger case.

As a result of the new allegations, Walker surrendered to deputy federal marshals on Tuesday in response to an order by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady. Walker remained in federal custody on Friday.

Court records show his sentencing hearing on the $1.4 million tax credit case is June 5.

Walker’s attorney, John C. Anderson, did not respond Friday to telephone and email requests for comment on the continuing case.

In October, Walker was charged by Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene I. Salomon with one count of wire fraud in the $1.4 million case, and he pleaded guilty.

That wire fraud charge carries a possible prison term of 20 years. Brady granted Walker permission to remain free pending sentencing.

On March 20, however, Salomon asked the judge to revoke Walker’s release pending sentencing.

Salomon wrote to the judge that three investors, identified only by their initials, had complained that Walker enticed them to invest a combined $325,000 for Louisiana film tax credits he promised to deliver.

The prosecutor said none of the three investors had received film tax credits or their money from Walker.

Investor MBP, of Austin, Texas, allegedly placed $100,000 with Walker in July, Salomon told the judge. Investor JJ, of Odessa, Fla., reported investing $175,000 the same month.

Investor JC, whose city of residence was not included in the court filing, reported a $50,000 payment in July for film tax credits that remain undelivered.

Salomon said in his court filing last month that Walker promised film tax credit buyer MBP that a tax credit businessman, identified only as NT, was about to pay Walker $828,000.

Walker allegedly “supplied emails and text messages represented to be NT acknowledging the existence of the funds and Walker’s entitlement to the funds,” Salomon wrote Brady.

“FBI agents have contacted legitimate representatives of NT and determined that the messages did not originate from NT,” Salomon said.

“It is believed that Walker, while on release, has misused the identity of NT to lull investor MBP into a belief that his (MBP’s) $100,000 investment would be rewarded with Louisiana film tax credits,” the prosecutor added.

Although Walker allegedly took $325,000 from the three additional investors prior to his Oct. 23 guilty plea, Salomon told the judge, “Walker has continued to mislead investors into believing that he would supply valuable, valid film tax credits to them for the funds … they had previously advanced to him.”

At the time that Walker was allegedly getting cash for tax credits in July, he had just entered an $850,000 settlement agreement in civil proceedings in New Orleans federal court to end complaints by a federal bankruptcy disbursing agent. That agent, David Adler, sought $3 million from Walker for money allegedly taken out of a Covington hospital company Walker once controlled.

But Walker was required by the settlement to pay all of that $850,000 in August in order to limit his debt to that amount. He missed that deadline and two others before a federal judge awarded the bankruptcy estate the full $3 million.

Josh Koch, an attorney for Adler, said Friday that Walker has not paid anything on the $3 million debt.

In civil litigation in other courts, Walker has admitted that he owes $1.36 million for food services a company provided to three of his former hospital companies in Denham Springs, Hammond and New Iberia.

Walker also has conceded he owes $87,600 for former hospital employees’ medical bills.

A year ago, Walker said in an interview that he had persuaded the IRS to accept less than the $4.3 million the agency demanded as payment for hospital employees’ tax withholdings that had not been forwarded to the federal government.

At that time, Walker would not say how much less the IRS agreed to accept. He added, though, that he was granted permission to repay the debt over an eight-year period.