NEW ORLEANS -- Former Jefferson Parish Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro pleaded not guilty Friday to tax evasion and filing a false tax return.
Taffaro, 70, entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld, who set his bond at $100,000 and a tentative trial date of Oct. 2.
Taffaro, who retired from the Sheriff’s Office in June, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week. Mike Magner, Taffaro’s attorney, said at the time his client intends to fight the charges, which stem from Taffaro’s 2009 tax returns.
"We're looking forward to our day in court," Magner told reporters after Friday's hearing.
The indictment alleges Taffaro 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, who earlier this week abruptly announced his retirement, has said he has been interviewed about the case but has been assured he is not a target.
In announcing his retirement, Normand said the timing of it so close to Taffaro’s indictment was nothing more than a coincident.
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.
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.