ATC, Revenue investigators charge Lafayette business owner with tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering

February 27, 2009

BATON ROUGE - On Thursday, February 26, 2009, Alcohol & Tobacco Control (ATC) agents arrested a Lafayette business owner on multiple charges related to tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering.

Eric Cloutier, of 232 Winchester Drive in Lafayette, was taken into custody as the result of a joint nine-month investigation by the Investigative Services Unit of ATC and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Louisiana Department of Revenue. Cloutier is the owner of Marley’s Downtown, a Lafayette sports bar, and Karma, a Lafayette nightclub, where the crimes are alleged to have taken place.

Initial complaints received by the Lafayette Police Department were turned over to ATC agents who began the investigation. Cloutier is accused of electronically manipulating his cash registers to conceal sales transactions. Investigators allege the scheme allowed Cloutier to commit tax fraud and money laundering through both businesses by filing false sales and use tax returns with the Department of Revenue. He is accused of failing to remit sales taxes to Lafayette Parish and to the State of Louisiana.

Investigators also charged Cloutier with illegally obtaining two alcohol permits by providing false information on annual license renewal application affidavits.

Additional charges against Cloutier include obstruction of justice for the intentional destruction of evidence in an attempt to cover up the crimes after the investigation began.

In all, the evidence indicates that Cloutier laundered as much as $1.4 million through these businesses during a nearly three (3) year period.

ATC agents booked Eric Cloutier into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on the following charges:

• Felony Theft - Two counts, over $126,000

• Felony Attempted Theft - Two counts, over $28,000

• Obstruction of Justice - 340 Counts

• Computer Fraud - 67 Counts

• Filing False Public Records - 92 Counts

• Money Laundering – One count, over $1.4 million dollars

• Racketeering - One count

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