Former Baton Rouge lawyer pleads guilty to fraud
BATON ROUGE - James M. Bernhard III has pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge federal court to one count of wire fraud and admitted that he schemed to divert over $453,000 of his former law firm's money to his personal use.
The Advocate reports Bernhard told Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson that he has been under a psychiatrist's care and is taking medically prescribed drugs.
Bernhard's attorneys told the judge they believed Bernhard was mentally competent and aware of the ramifications of his guilty plea.
Jackson noted that the wire fraud conviction carries a possible penalty of 20 years in prison and possible fine of $250,000. Bernhard said he understood those possibilities.
Bernhard is the son of Shaw Group Inc. Chairman Jim Bernhard.
Jackson scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 23.