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Criminal charges filed in film credit scandal
The Iowa attorney general’s office has filed criminal charges against the former head of the Iowa Film Office alleging non-felonious misconduct in office. Two filmmakers involved with a 2008 movie that received state tax credits are also facing charges of felony theft.
Allegations of misconduct surrounding the state’s film tax credit emerged last September. The allegations, which involve misuse of the credits and lack of oversight by the state, led to resignations from the top two officials at the Iowa Department of Economic Development and the firing of Tom Wheeler, who was running the tax credit program almost single-handedly. Gov. Chet Culver also suspended the tax credits while an investigation was conducted.
Wheeler is now facing serious misdemeanor allegations that could mean up to one year in jail. He’s accused of failing to verify eligibility of applicants for tax credits. His attorney released a statement Monday calling the decision by the attorney general to file criminal charges “disappointing.”
“The state has decided to pursue a novel theory of criminal liability and it is our position that their decision is a mistake that is not supported by the facts or the law,” attorney Gordan Fischer said. “However, because they have chosen this path, Tom’s focus must now necessarily shift from trying to help the state develop a functional, and economically beneficial, tax incentive program to defending against the criminal charges.”
Also charged is Wendy Weiner Runge, who was executive producer of a 2008 film, “The Scientist,” and Matthias Alexander Saunders, a photography director involved with “The Scientist.”