NEW ORLEANS -- A former high-ranking Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office official was charged Thursday with tax evasion and filing a false tax return.
Former Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro, who retired from the Sheriff’s Office in June, was indicted by a federal grand jury. Taffaro’s attorney said his client intends to fight the charges, which stem from Taffaro’s 2009 tax returns.
“The IRS has chosen to take a small civil tax dispute and turn it into a federal criminal tax prosecution for reasons known only to them,” attorney Mike Magner wrote in a statement. “He is innocent of these charges and we fully expect he will be vindicated at trial.”
The indictment alleges Taffaro, 70, tried to avoid paying taxes by filing a return with “false and complete information” about his 2009 income and expenses, which he reported in 2010. It does not specify how much money the government believes Taffaro tried to avoid paying but says he “exaggerated” business expenses.
Sources with knowledge of the case told WWL-TV that the amount Taffaro is accused of ducking is less than $5,000 and the business expenses were associated with a CTNN Enterprise LLC, a business Taffaro and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand formed after Normand was elected sheriff in 2007. The name of the company is a combination of the two men’s initials.
The business is not named in the indictment. Normand has said he has been interviewed about the case but has been assured he is not a target.
Taffaro retired from the JPSO as the federal inquiry was winding down. The career lawman previously worked for the Gretna Police Department and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office. Magner, his attorney, noting his client’s decades of public service.
“Taffaro spent 52 years honorably serving his country and his community, beginning with the U.S. Army and continuing to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, where he served with distinction as chief deputy. Chief Taffaro made the JPSO Patrol Division one of the finest law enforcement organizations in the southeast, with a record of responding to every emergency call in five minutes or less,” Magner’s statement read. “Chief Taffaro’s leadership helped make Jefferson Parish one of the safest communities of its size in the nation.”
Taffaro is due to be arraigned in federal court July 28. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.
If convicted, Taffaro faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for tax evasion and three years for filing a false tax return.