I'm perfectly willing to believe defense attorney Mike Magner's contention that the feds hoped their investigation of former Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office chief deputy Craig Taffaro might lead them to one of Taffaro's close associates, either boss/business partner Newell Normand, the longtime sheriff, or Billy Nungesser, the lieutenant governor and Taffaro's son-in-law. That's how these things work sometimes.
But that's a plausible explanation for how Taffaro found himself under investigation and ultimately on trial for tax evasion and filing false returns charges. It's hardly a defense.
The question the feds asked once they got to court was reasonable. How could Taffaro justify claiming the bulk of the income from the side business he and Normand shared as expenses, at the same time he was withdrawing huge sums from casinos?
It was Taffaro's answers that weren't. He had little documentation to support his claims of huge business expenses, only a bucket of excuses. He lost his iPad on a plane. His accountant steered him wrong. Keeping records is just so hard.
Kind of makes you wonder what a guy like this was doing running a business in the first place, which is another topic for a future column. It also makes you wonder how he handled his day job as a top official with a major law enforcement agency. Taffaro wasn't in charge of tax collection, one of JPSO's duties, although the prosecution noted that he would have been had something happened to Normand. But surely he was responsible for at least some paperwork.
For now, though, we're left with the unseemly specter of a big time cop asking not to be held to the standard he hopefully would have set for anyone else. To which the jury delivered the only reasonable response: Guilty on all counts.