White Collar Crime

Ex-Partner May Plead in Fraud Case Over Alleged $30M La. Law Firm Theft

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A news agency is reporting that James Perdigao, a former partner at a New Orleans law firm who is accused of fraud and money laundering concerning the $30 million he allegedly stole from an Adams and Reese trust account before repaying the money, is now expected to plead guilty.

“Court records show that former Adams and Reese law partner James Perdigao has a change-of-plea hearing scheduled for Friday,” reports the Associated Press. However, his legal counsel and a spokesman for the local U.S. Attorney, Jim Letten, did not comment.

As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, Perdigao, 46, is involved in criminal and civil cases that read like a plot from a John Grisham legal thriller:

At a hearing Monday, an FBI agent testified that Perdigao has continued accessing the Adams and Reese system ever since he was fired in 2004. He filed a racketeering suit against Adams and Reese earlier this year which the law firm says is baseless. It contends that the firm trumped up the theft claim after he refused to go along with unsavory practices.

Meanwhile, a federal magistrate revoked Perdigao’s $2 million bond on Monday, based in part on new claims that he hacked into the law firm’s computers earlier this month.

Those claims resulted in a grand jury indictment yesterday, the AP notes. In that case, Perdigao is accused of stealing confidential correspondence between the firm, prosecutors and the FBI, as well as bills and records.

An FBI agent testified Monday that Perdigao has repeatedly accessed the law firm’s computer system since he left the firm in 2004, writes columnist James Gill in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He says Perdigao accessed the computer by using another lawyer’s password, after his own former password proved to be invalid.

As the columnist characterizes the primary federal case against Perdigao, “Adams and Reese fired Perdigao in 2004 after discovering that $30 million had gone missing. Perdigao paid the money back, but when plea negotiations broke down, he filed a civil suit against his former employers and asked the judge to recuse the local U.S. attorney’s office from his case.”

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