Tax commission official arrested on fraud, other charges  

The administrator for the Louisiana Tax Commission faces criminal charges including malfeasance in office and payroll fraud. Charles K. Abels III, 51, of Baton Rouge, was arrested by Louisiana State Police, it was announced today, after an investigation that began in May.

State police say Abels was paid for time he did not work, that he improperly used a state rental vehicle, and that he submitted unauthorized fuel reimbursement requests for the vehicle.
Online records show Abels was jailed Friday at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, with bond set at $16,300.

Tax Commission Chairman Lawrence Chehardy says Abels has been on suspension since November and told Daily Report last week that he had requested an audit based on his suspicions about Abels. He adds the investigation is ongoing. Tax Commission duties include overseeing the work of local assessors and handling taxpayer appeals.

Abels is a well-known figure in Livingston Parish political circles. His grandfather, Charles “Buddy” Abels, was the longtime tax assessor in the parish, a position the younger Abels, then just in his 30s, also held in the late 1990s.

He was defeated in 1999, however, by current assessor Jeff Taylor, amidst adverse publicity regarding several DWI arrests. He was subsequently forced to resign in 2000—before Taylor could take office—as part of a plea bargain related to a hit-and-run accident with an assessor’s vehicle.

In 2002, he was hired as a staff appraiser by the Louisiana Tax Commission. According to news reports at the time, he said he was a recovering alcoholic who was trying to turn his life around.

He was also named administrator of the commission several years later during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Last March, Abels was arrested again, this time on a domestic violence charge. No formal charges were ever filed, however, and the case was not prosecuted.

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