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Movie Producer Fined $5,000 in Tax Case

April 08, 1998|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Film producer Peter Hoffman was fined $5,000, but will not have to serve any jail time or have any probation imposed on him as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false tax return.

For 1989, Hoffman filed a return understating his taxable income by about $33,000.

The fine, imposed by U.S. District Judge John G. Davies in Los Angeles on Tuesday, brings to a close a much-watched case, one that federal prosecutors had hoped would assist them in a bigger criminal tax fraud investigation of movie producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar.

Hoffman worked with the two men in the late 1980s when he was president of Carolco Pictures. Vajna and Kassar were partners in now-defunct Carolco, which produced such films as "Total Recall" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Vajna and Kassar have recently reunited as business partners.

As part of his plea agreement, Hoffman has agreed to refile tax returns for 1989 and 1990 and to pay any additional taxes owed.

In a statement, Hoffman's attorneys, Tom Pollack and Brian Hennigan, blasted federal prosecutors, saying the case against Hoffman "ended with a thud."

According to the two attorneys, Davies said that Hoffman has already "suffered more than an individual should over a tax dispute." Tuesday's hearing, they said, "brought to a close what was from the start a misguided and doomed prosecution that . . . dragged Mr. Hoffman through two years of financial and emotional turmoil."

Thom Mrozek, chief spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, said: "Mr. Hoffman pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and has filed new tax returns to resolve back tax issues with the IRS. I think that speaks for Mr. Hoffman's culpability."

Hoffman made no comment.

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