SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport businessman on Tuesday accepted a deal from the US Attorney and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before Chief United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks.
David D. deBerardinis, 59, signed the plea agreement in which he agreed to a sentence of 15 years, according to Alex Van Hook, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
Indicted in January 2018 on four counts of wire fraud and one count of attempted bank fraud, deBerardinis was accused of defrauding investors of millions of dollars.
Since then, deBerardinis’ case has been winding through federal court, not only due to 2020 COVID delays, but a delay that included a 2019 psychiatric evaluation and a competency hearing that was ruled on in April 2020.
A Shreveport-based executive, deBerardinis was operated and managed several business entities. He represented himself and his business entities to be part of the petroleum industry involved in a complex fuel trading business.
According to the plea agreement, deBerardinis solicited and caused others to solicit individual investors and financial institutions to provide funds for his businesses in exchange for interest payments and a guaranteed return of principal.
The document indicates that deBerardinis told investors and financial institutions he had a preferential trading arrangement with Alon USA Energy, Inc. (Alon) that generated significant profits that would be used to repay the investors and financial institutions when in truth and in fact, deBerardinis knew that he had no such arrangement with Alon.
Between April 2014 and June 2015, PlainsCapital Bank, a financial institution in Dallas, Texas, provided funding to deBerardinis in the amount of $29,500,000 allegedly to expand his fuel trading business.
At the time the funding was obtained, deBerardinis knew that he was not making fuel trades and that he did not have a relationship with Alon.
The funding from PlainsCapital was made by several interstate wire transfers from PlainsCapital Bank in Dallas to one of deBerardinis’ bank accounts in Shreveport.
The defendant either initiated or caused to be initiated these wire transfers. One of the wire transfers occurred on or about November 25, 2014 in the amount of $17,100,000, much of which was used to support his lavish lifestyle.