Taxpayer alleges being sold worthless film tax credits

A Baton Rouge man took $61,600 from another area resident for state film tax credits that proved worthless, according to a lawsuit in 19th Judicial District Court.

Samuel Jason Hewitt, 40, 11600 block of Highland Road, could not be located for comment Tuesday.

Other court records show Business First Bank has attempted for more than 15 months to collect a judgment of more than $690,000 against Hewitt and his Films in Motion LLC. That debt allegedly was owed on loans that came due in 2010.

Now, David Fabre, 56, alleges he had to pay additional state taxes of $57,617 last year after the Louisiana Department of Revenue determined the Films in Motion credits he purchased in 2010 were invalid.

Those credits had already been sold to and claimed by someone else, Fabre quoted state officials in his suit.

“David bought these tax credits, and then they were disallowed by the state because they were already sold,” said Brett P. Furr, one of Fabre’s attorneys.

“He (Fabre) had to basically pay the tax twice — once to Hewitt and again to the state.

“The state has been made whole. This is just an unfortunate set of circumstances. It’s no reflection on the state (film tax credit) program. It’s a reflection on this one person (Hewitt), who wasn’t trustworthy.”

Fabre, identified in the suit as an East Baton Rouge Parish resident, noted in his suit and its exhibits that he bought the tax credits from three firms for which he said Hewitt served as agent. In addition to Films in Motion, those firms included WSOT Investments LLC and Burning Palms Productions LLC.

Only Films in Motion remains active and in good standing with the Louisiana Secretary of State, government records showed Tuesday. WSOT Investments was listed as inactive, and Burning Palms Productions was listed as “not in good standing” for alleged failure to file an updated annual report.

The purchase agreement shows Fabre was a Prairieville resident in April 2010, when he agreed to pay $61,600 for $70,000 in film tax credits for his 2009 tax debt.

Last year, though, state auditors notified Fabre that the same credits already had been used by someone else, according to his suit. Fabre then received a bill from the Louisiana Department of Revenue for $98,134 in additional taxes and interest.

Fabre said in the suit that he confronted Hewitt, who promised to deliver substitute tax credits to him.

In November, Fabre said, Hewitt sent him additional tax credits that totaled $18,571 — far less than the $70,000 in credits promised earlier.

Because of Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2013, Fabre said in his suit that he was able to negotiate forgiveness of half of the interest debt. Fabre then combined $57,617 of his own money with the $18,571 in additional credits forwarded by Hewitt to settle his state tax debt for $76,188.

Fabre said he then demanded that Hewitt repay his $57,617.

When Hewitt failed to repay that alleged debt, Fabre filed his suit Jan. 31. Court records show the dispute has been assigned to state District Judge Kay Bates.

Editor’s note: This story was changed Feb. 5, 2014, to correct the age of David Fabre to 56.