Competency hearing underway for Shreveport man accused in Ponzi scheme

Louisiana News

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A competency hearing is underway for a Shreveport businessman accused of defrauding investors of nearly $100 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Today expert witnesses were called to determine if David deBerardinis is fit to stand trial on federal charges.

A forensic psychologist was called to the stand who did a psych evaluation on deBerardinis this year.

After hours of testimony, the psychologist told the judge he found deBerardinis fit to stand trial. However, did find a cognitive decline in deBerardinis. Possible related to drug and alcohol use along with traumatic brain injuries.

The defense called a second expert witness to testify, a clinical psychologist who also found cognitive decline. That psychologist is still testifying.

According to his federal indictment, deBerardinis operated numerous business entities and represented himself as part of the petroleum industry involved in the sale, trade, and transport of fuel. He even allegedly disguised himself as an Orthodox Jewish businessman at one point while trying to obtain investor funds from a New York-based private equity group after hiring a professional makeup artist.

deBerardinis faces 20 years in prison for the wire fraud counts and 30 years in prison for the attempted bank fraud count. He also faces a $1 million fine, restitution, forfeiture, and five years of supervised release for each count.

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