Breaking News – 15 Years for Perdiago

The Times-Picayune beat PACER with their story!

James Perdigao, the gambling-law specialist who claimed to be the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy and then admitted stealing $20 million from his former law firm, was sentenced Wednesday to more than 15 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon. He was also ordered to pay $23 million in restitution.

Offered an opportunity to speak, Perdigao, who was clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, said little. “I’m sorry for my conduct,” he said. “I’m very, very sorry.”

Fallon dressed Perdigao down. With a quality education, a law degree and a high-paying job at a white-shoe law firm, the judge said, Perdigao had everything going for him.

“Yet for years you stole money from your employer or your clients,” the judge said. “You let yourself down. You let your family down. You let your profession down and you let your country down. You had a lot to contribute. You didin’t.”

Perdigao, who was a partner at Adams and Reese, saw his world come crashing down in 2004, when he was fired and indicted on charges that he stole millions from the firm and stashed it in a Swiss bank account.

Facing those sensational charges, Perdigao launched some eye-popping allegations of his own. Among other claims, he maintained that at least two prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office had taken bribes from Bobby Guidry, the government’s star witness against former Gov. Edwin Edwards, in exchange for leniency. Perdigao once represented Guidry.

Perdigao also claimed that Letten was uninterested in pursuing those allegations because the office feared proving them true would jeopardize Edwards’ conviction. He argued unsuccessfully that Letten’s office should be recused from prosecuting him as a result.

Until two weeks before he pleaded guilty, Perdigao was free on bond pending a trial set for Dec. 1. But since his Oct. 16 arrest on charges of hacking into the Adams and Reese computer network and downloading sensitive documents, some of them related to his criminal case, he has been held on the federal tier of Orleans Parish Prison.

In October, Perdigao pleaded guilty to 30 of the 63 felony counts he was facing and agreed to forfeit the cash he admitted that he had been embezzling for more than a decade. The money has since been recovered with Perdigao’s help and is in the possession of the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

More recently, Perdigao admitted he had no basis for his spectacular claims of corruption both at his old law firm and the U.S. attorney’s office. He wrote an abject apology, which was filed into the court record by prosecutors recently.

I’ll let Sop address the “no basis” in light of his earlier post and simply continue the story.

Until shortly before his guilty plea, Perdigao was free on bond pending a trial that was to take place Dec. 1. But he was arrested Oct. 16 on charges of hacking into Adams and Reese’s private computer network and downloading sensitive documents, some of them related to his criminal case. He has been held since then in the federal wing of Orleans Parish Prison.

In a summary of the case against him that Perdigao signed, he admitted making $23 million in of unauthorized withdrawals from Adams and Reese accounts from 1991 until about October 2004. He said he had Bank One and Whitney Bank transfer the stolen money to his account at the Bank of New York. From there, the money was wired to a Swiss bank.

Apart from serving a 188-month prison sentence, Fallon ordered Perdigao to pay $23 million in restitution, divided as follows: more than $11 million to Adams and Reese; $6.5 million to Pinnacle Entertainment, a major client; $5.1 million to the Internal Revenue Service; and $768,000 to the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

By the way, interesting comments were starting to come in; so, keep your eye on the story.

One thought on “Breaking News – 15 Years for Perdiago”

  1. This comment from the NOLA site sums up why this story has proven so popular here on slabbed:

    By all accounts Perdiagao was a brilliant lawyer and an honorable man until he ran afoul of the Adams & Reese machine. Any firm that hires Marc Morial as soon as his mayoral term was up is highly suspect and stinks like last week’s fish. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and this well might be one of those bizarre cases. Talk about a fall guy: if Perdigao was guilty of anything it was stupidity in believing that he would get justice within the system when he had crossed A & R. And he will be paying for the next 15 years while the A & R partners live the good life

    Jim Letten has done much to help clean up the entrenched corruption in NOLA. He stopped short on what he was given however.

    I’ll note besides Marc Morial A&R also hired George Dale. Robert Wooley resigned from his post as La Insurance Commish to go to work for them.

    I’d normally say follow the money but in this case we can follow the flies to the money. The average Joe in NOLA just isn’t that dumb.


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