- Associated Press - Friday, January 11, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The administrator for the Louisiana Tax Commission faces criminal charges including malfeasance in office and payroll fraud, Louisiana State Police said Friday

Charles K. Abels III, 51, of Baton Rouge was arrested after an investigation that began in May, a state police news release said.

The release says Abels is charged with claiming - and being paid for - work he did not do. A warrant also accuses him of improperly using a state rental vehicle and that he submitted unauthorized fuel reimbursement requests for the vehicle.

Online records show Abels was jailed Friday at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, with bond set at $16,300.

Tax Commission Chairman Lawrence Chehardy said in an interview that Abels has been on suspension since November.

Chehardy said he asked for assistance from the Legislative Auditor’s office after complaints were made about Abels to the Governor’s Office and the state Commissioner of Administration.

“These investigations have identified a number of improprieties,” Chehardy said, reading from a prepared statement. He declined to go into details beyond what was in the state police press release but said investigations are ongoing and have resulted in personnel and policy changes at the commission.

Tax Commission duties include overseeing the work of local assessors and handling taxpayer appeals.

“The Louisiana Tax Commission remains fully operational and continues to satisfactorily perform its duties and service to the general public,” Chehardy said.

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