NEW ORLEANS – A Slidell-based shrimper has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud concerning false tax documents he filed in order to secure a Deepwater Horizon oil spill worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Under the terms of the agreement, Casey Thonn could face up to 20 years in jail and $250,000 in fines for falsifying his income and providing fake tax returns that were used as the basis for the $357,000 damages he claimed. According to the plea deal, Thonn will not face further charges for admittance of guilt.
After having been found to have used tax documents that were never filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Thonn was arraigned on Sept. 26 on a bill of information – a sign that he already had in place a plea deal with prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has since demanded that Thonn and his lawyers return the money to the settlement fund. Thonn’s claim is also at the center of an ongoing investigation into an alleged “money laundering” and kickback scheme involving his attorneys and those who formerly worked in the Court Supervised Settlement Program.
Thonn’s is one of three claims that Louis Freeh, a special investigator who was appointed to snuff out fraud in the case, has identified as being fraudulent. AndryLerner, the law firm that represented Thonn in the claim, also represented another commercial fisherman, Jarrod A. Burrle, also accused of using false tax documents as the basis for a claim.
Thonn’s criminal defense was provided by New Orleans-based attorney Frank G. DeSalvo. Thonn is currently free on a $10,000 bond.