New Orleans, Louisianna - A federal grand jury in New Orleans returned an indictment Friday charging a city court judge with filing false tax returns.
According to the indictment, from 2013 to 2016 Ernestine Anderson-Trahan, a judge of the Second City Court in the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, allegedly officiated hundreds of marriage ceremonies each year but did not report on her federal tax returns the entire income earned from presiding over those ceremonies. Trahan allegedly earned between $80 and $100, paid to her in cash, for each marriage she officiated at the courthouse. She allegedly charged higher officiant fees for marriages conducted outside normal business hours, outside the courthouse, or on Valentine’s Day. Trahan allegedly did not report all of these officiant fees on her 2013 through 2016 federal tax returns. On her 2013 and 2014 tax returns, Trahan also allegedly did not report the income she received in those tax years for providing outside legal work before becoming a judge.
Trahan is scheduled to make her initial court appearance on Jan. 24 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for each of the four counts of filing a false tax return. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Brian Flanagan and William Montague of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.