Mayor Used Position to Avoid Sales Tax
- Oct 2, 2015 | Gail Cole
“I didn’t mean to.” This is what children often say when they did something they ought not to have done. Of course, they often did mean to, and so they get in trouble.
When James Lavigne was mayor of Pearl River, Louisiana, he did a few things he ought not to have done. He bought a fishing boat with the town’s credit card, for example, and also a gas-powered residential generator that ended up at the home of town clerk Diane Bennett Hollie.
These purchases came to light during a 2014 legislative audit, which also revealed Lavigne and Hollie “made personal purchases on the town credit cards to avoid paying sales taxes.”
Lavigne has admitted to using the town’s sales tax exemption number to purchase personal items tax-free. He called it a “lapse in record keeping,” not wrongdoing, but he did plead guilty to 5 of the 7 counts against him. Hollie also pleaded guilty to the charges against her.
For these and other crimes, the former mayor has been sentenced to 5 years’ probation. This could turn into more than 11 years of prison time if the terms of probation are not met.
Most sales tax errors are, in fact, attributable to lapses in record keeping. Automated sales tax software as a service (SaaS) helps keep honest people compliant. Learn how it works.