New Orleans lawyer Michael Arata avoids prison in film tax credit fraud scheme _lowres

Attorney Michael Arata

New Orleans attorney Michael Arata may have avoided prison time for his role in a scheme involving state film tax credits, but his law license is now in jeopardy.

The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Arata’s license to practice law on Wednesday while disciplinary proceedings get underway.

A federal jury convicted Arata of cheating the state’s tax credit program in April in a scheme involving the transformation of a Victorian mansion on Esplanade into a post-production studio. Prosecutors accused Arata, Hollywoood producer Peter Hoffman and Hoffman’s wife, Susan Hoffman, of misleading auditors and state officials about the cost of the work to claim $1.1 million in tax credits.

While Arata was convicted on 13 counts, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ended up reversing 12 of them and sentencing him to probation, a fine and community service.

Arata is married to Emily Sneed Arata, who formerly worked as a deputy mayor under Mayor Mitch Landrieu before taking a job with Ochsner Health Systems earlier this year.