LED says FOX 8 info lead to new state probe of Horizon credits

LED says FOX 8 info lead to new state probe of Horizon credits

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State economic development officials acknowledge that the inspector general's office has been asked to investigate all Horizon Entertainment productions that received film production tax credits, following a series of reports by FOX 8 investigators.

While the IG's office told FOX 8 of its probe Tuesday, Louisiana Economic Development issued this statement Friday:

"LED has no tolerance for abuse of any state incentive program. On several occasions since 2008, LED has referred to the Office of State Inspector General (IG) film tax credit matters where LED's staff has had suspicions of fraud, which could not be confirmed solely from the evidence available to LED, even after a review by a certified fraud examiner engaged by LED. In these instances, further investigation is required by a law enforcement agency that has the authority to subpoena records from third parties. LED also has worked cooperatively with the IG and FBI on some of these cases and others. Some of these cases have resulted in federal prosecutions and convictions while others remain in progress. In the case of Horizon Entertainment, which recently was the focus of an investigative TV report by FOX 8, LED referred its concerns about Horizon (including the Saintsational and Family Gras productions) to the IG in approximately late 2010. That initial referral was investigated by the IG but did not result in prosecution. With new information revealed by FOX 8, LED has asked the IG to revisit all Horizon Entertainment productions that received film production tax credits. As the investigation has been reopened, there will be no further comment from the Inspector General."

Lee Zurik's "Easy Money" series of reports on state incentives, including the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credits, revealed that Horizon had submitted questionable expenses to the state before receiving millions of dollars in tax credits. Horizon and its owner, Jason Sciavicco, have denied any wrongdoing.

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