Judge rules local businessman competent to stand trial for alleged Ponzi scheme

Louisiana News

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A federal judge has ruled a Shreveport businessman charged with wire fraud and attempted bank fraud is competent to stand trial.

David deBerardinis was indicted in January 2018, with a superceeding indictment handed down in March 2018, charging him with multiple counts of mail fraud, making false statements to a band and money laundering, in an alleged Ponzi scheme designed to defraud investors and two federally-insured banks.

According to the documents, deBerardinis falsely represented himself through the use of fake documents, identities, business transactions and other false information to obtain million of dollars from investors and lending institutions.

The elaborate scheme deBerarninis’ allegedly developed to perpetrate the multimillion dollar fraud involved an imaginary Israeli oil company and an imaginary principal owner who lived in an imaginary home in Memphis. deBerardinis claimed to have a more than decade-long relationship with the imaginary owner, which allowed him to earn a guaranteed profit from a fuel-trading arrangement.

Attorneys for deBerardinis filed a motion to determine his competency to stand trial, and the court complied, directing deBerardinis to report to a Bureau of Prisons facility for an evaluation. In addition, deBerardinis was evaluated by three experts retained by his attorneys.

In a 36-page ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby that although “there is persuasive evidence” that deBerardinis suffers from mild-to-moderate cognitive decline, “whether due to alcohol, physical trauma, drugs or other causes,” and brain scans indicate he has areas consistent with a decline.

Hornsby’s ruling came after reading the experts’ reports and a competency hearing in December. In it, he noted that deBerardinis’ I.Q. has declined over the years, but remains functional. He said deBerardinis has a good vocabulary and was able to “easily communicate with healthcare professionals about his family history, work experience and the charges against him.”

Attorneys for deBeradinis have until April 24 to object to Hornsby’s report and recommendation to file specific, written objections with the clerk of court, unless an extension of time is granted.

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