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Former Director Charged in Tax Credit Investigation

More charges expected in Louisiana federal investigation

By Pamela Cole

Aug. 30, 2007 (BATON ROUGE)—Mark Smith, former director of the Louisiana Film Commission, was charged with one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy on Aug. 20 by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, in an ongoing federal investigation into alleged abuse of Louisiana's motion picture tax credit program. Smith worked for the state's Film Commission from 2002 to 2006. He is accused of accepting $65,000 in bribes to approve tax credits for films produced in Louisiana.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7, but sources say the hearing may not be necessary since Smith is expected to plead guilty. Smith, 46, could face 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine on the bribery charge, and five years' imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, plus three years of supervised release.

Letten said he expects more charges to result from the investigation, a joint effort by federal prosecutors, the FBI, and the IRS.

Louisiana offers the most generous film incentives in America. Since the state enacted the film incentives in 2002, it has become the third most popular US site for film production, after Los Angeles and New York.

See previous article on this topic.