SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A northwest Louisiana businessman pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday and accepted a 15-year prison sentence in connection with an investment con that drew tens of millions of dollars from individuals and banks, federal prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport said David DeBerardinis, 59, managed several business entities and claimed to be part of a complex energy industry trading business involving major players in the oil and gas industry. He used phony bank statements, fake checks, internet domains and documents to convince people and institutions to invest in what turned out to be non-existing fuel trading investments.
“DeBerardinis told investors and financial institutions that he had a preferential trading arrangement with Alon USA Energy, Inc. ... 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,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook said in Wednesday's statement.
A 2018 indictment said DeBerardinis took in $50 million from investors in the Shreveport area. And it said he fraudulently obtained more than $40 million from a Dallas bank in transactions in 2014 and 2015.
“Over the course of several years David DeBerardinis created an incredibly complex fraud scheme to give the impression that he was a successful fuel trader. He destroyed the lives of many people by stealing their savings to finance his extravagant lifestyle,” Van Hook said in a news release.