Louisiana Record

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Non-permanent disbarment recommended for New Orleans attorney in 'Hollywood South' tax scheme

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Dec 19, 2019

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NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Suspended New Orleans attorney Michael Peter Arata, convicted along with his movie producer client in 2015 over an alleged fraudulent film tax credit scheme, faces possible disbarment following a recent Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) hearing committee recommendation.

The office of disciplinary counsel is asking that Arata be permanently disbarred but LADB hearing committee No. 37 members argued that permanently revoking Arata's law license isn't appropriate in his case, based on Louisiana Supreme Court precedent.

"Applying the Supreme Court guidelines, there does not appear to be grounds to recommend permanent disbarment," the recommendation said. "Accordingly, the committee does not recommend permanent disbarment, but does recommend disbarment."

The committee also recommend Arata be ordered to pay all costs and expenses in the disciplinary matter.

The recommendation was signed Dec. 2 by committee chair Wade P. Webster and was issued the three days later. Attorney member Robert Johnston and public member Linda Ellis concurred in the recommendation.

Arata was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 16, 1992, and had no prior history of discipline, according to the recommendation.

In February 2014, Arata and his movie producer client Peter M. Hoffman were charged in a six-count federal grand jury indictment over allegations involving a building renovation. In what generally has been referred to as the "Hollywood South" case, Arat and Hoffman were accused of defrauding Louisiana out of more than $1 million in tax credits.

Arata and Hoffman were sentenced to probation in 2016 by a federal judge who also tossed a portion of their 2015 jury convictions over allegation involving a more than $1 million building renovation.

Arata was placed on interim suspension in February 2016

In August 2018, a U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel reinstated many of Arata and Hoffman's convictions, sending the case back to a lower court for re-sentencing.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined their appeal in May.

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Fifth Circuit Court of AppealsU.S. Supreme CourtLouisiana Attorney Disciplinary BoardLouisiana Supreme Court

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