A Polk County jury yesterday acquitted Bettendorf accountant Chad Witter of all charges arising out of his involvement with the defunct Iowa film tax credit. The Sioux City Journal reports:
Witter, the primary accountant for the Changing Horses Productions film company and a tax credit broker for several film projects, had been in that same courtroom for the past two weeks listening as prosecutors blamed him for overbilling the state of Iowa in an attempt to line his own pockets in his role involving the now-shuttered Iowa Film Office.
But it took the jury of seven women and five men less than a day to declare Witter not guilty on charges of fraud, theft and ongoing criminal conduct.
The state got convictions or guilty pleas in seven of the ten cases in which they pressed criminal charges against film credit figures, though the conviction against former film office director Tom Wheeler was pretty minor, and he received a suspended sentence. Two filmmakers received ten-year sentences for looting the program, which was shut down after the state auditor found that 80% of the credits were improperly awarded or insufficiently documented. The Des Moines Register reports that Mr. Witter “brokered roughly $24 million of the $32 million in tax credits that were issued before the state ended the program.”
Of course, the real guilty parties in the film fiasco, which cost taxpayers over $30 million, never will face charges. The 143 state legislators who voted to subsidize Hollywood with your money will never be called to apologize for enacting a stupid program and then failing to include minimal protections against waste in the law. The Governor who signed the bill and then turned the keys to the treasury to a Walgreens photo desk clerk will never face a tribunal, and will never be required to publicly apologize for failing to protect taxpayers.
Finally, the credulous media that got so excited over celebrity sightings on your dime won’t apologize for missing the story, or for failing to provide detailed coverage of the film trials after the program blew up.