Bernhard and Crawford Lewis reach $1.5M settlement
James "Tres" Bernhard has reached a partial settlement with the law firm Crawford Lewis, which last month filed a lawsuit against him for fraud, theft, forgery and malpractice over the alleged sale of bogus movie industry tax credits. The $1.5 million settlement will go to five unnamed investors, who thought they were purchasing from Bernhard legitimate tax credits that could be used against their state tax bills this year. "The whole transaction was a forgery," says Mary Olive Pierson, who represents Crawford Lewis. "These five investors had purchased [the credits] for use on May 15. That's why it was very important for us to refund their money." Bernhard, son of The Shaw Group's founder and chairman, Jim Bernhard, paid for the settlement with money from his trust fund, Pierson says. "I don't know what the name of the trust is or who the trustees are," she says. Bernhard permanently surrendered his law license earlier this month in lieu of disciplinary action from the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel. His attorneys have declined to comment. But Pierson says the case is far from over. Her client still has several outstanding issues to resolve with Bernhard, who allegedly sold bogus movie tax credits and pocketed proceeds from the sale of legitimate credits that did not belong to him. Says Pierson of the developments: "It's very positive. He seems to be cooperating and trying to resolve some of the problems." —Stephanie Riegel
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