- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Los Angeles film executive and a New Orleans attorney are accused of defrauding Louisiana out of $1.1 million in tax credits, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr.

An indictment unsealed Friday charges both Peter M. Hoffman, 63, CEO of Seven Arts Entertainment Inc., and Michael P. Arata, 47, of New Orleans, with one count of conspiracy and five of wire fraud.

“We are surprised and disappointed that Michael has been included in this indictment. Michael Arata has done nothing wrong, and we will respond in court at the appropriate time,” attorney Billy Gibbens wrote in an email.

Jason R. Williams, who Gibbens said is representing Hoffman, did not immediately respond to an email Friday night.

Louisiana offers tax credits of up to 40 percent of the money spent to buy, build and use movie production facilities.

Hoffman and Arata got such credits by falsely claiming they had spent $2 million renovating a decrepit mansion in the Faubourg Marigny, at the edge of the French Quarter, as a post-production facility and $1 million on film equipment, the indictment alleged. They received the tax credits in June 2009, according to the indictment.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman.

If convicted on all six counts, Hoffman, who is also an attorney, and Arata could get up to 125 years in prison and fines of $1.5 million.

The Seven Arts website lists “Drunkboat,” with John Malkovich and John Goodman, and “Nine Miles Down” with Adrian Paul and Kate Nauta, as its new releases.

In the works, according to the website, are “Neuromancer,” based on William Gibson’s seminal cyberpunk novel, with a $60 million budget but no cast listed; and “Winter Queen,” adapted from Boris Akunin’s novel, with a $25 million budget and Milla Jovovich listed as a cast member.




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