The financial controller for a Metairie shipping firm stole more than $1 million from the company before being arrested last week, according to law enforcement officials.
Deepak “Jack” Jagtiani, 59, deposited the money from Dan-Gulf Shipping Inc.’s coffers into his own bank account without permission, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Glen Boyd said Tuesday.
Dan-Gulf Vice President Lowell Stewart said the firm couldn’t comment on the allegations against Jagtiani, but that “the company is still on solid footing in spite of what happened.”
Founded in 1993, Metairie-based Dan-Gulf is an international shipping firm, handling cargo ranging from steel and forest products to explosives and hazardous commodities.
The company sensed something was amiss on Feb. 1, when Jagtiani said that he had miscalculated Dan-Gulf’s funds and that the firm would not be able to meet certain financial obligations due in the coming days, Boyd said.
Jagtiani, who essentially served as the company's main accountant, then sent an email on the morning of Feb. 5 explaining that he wouldn't be able to come to work because of a doctor’s appointment. Two hours later, he resigned, effective immediately and without any explanation, Boyd said.
Dan-Gulf Shipping later contacted the Sheriff’s Office and reported that Jagtiani had stolen at least $1,052,000 from the company.
The Sheriff’s Office said he had made unauthorized direct deposits into his personal bank account. Deputies booked him on two counts each of felony theft and bank fraud.
Jagtiani’s bail was initially set at $1.5 million, but bail commissioner Patricia Joyce on Monday reduced that amount to $200,000 on a motion from Jagtiani’s attorney, Gregory Sauzer.
Jagtiani remained behind bars Tuesday and was ordered to surrender his passport. If he makes bail, he would have to await the resolution of his case under house arrest. He could face years in prison and fines if he is convicted.
Sauzer couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Aside from his role at Dan-Gulf, Jagtiani has also helped run a Metairie salon specializing in a hair-removal technique known as eyebrow threading. The salon drew the ire of the state Board of Cosmetology, which fined the business because two of its employees had not obtained costly licenses to work in Louisiana as beauticians.
To let entrepreneurs flourish, policymakers should overhaul burdensome licensing laws.
The salon and the libertarian Institute for Justice responded with a 2016 lawsuit challenging the board’s requirements. The legal battle ended last year with the state board exempting eyebrow threaders from the licensing process, according to the Institute for Justice.