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Police: Former school board member ditched stolen iPad in backyard pond

James "Jimmy" Fahrenholtz, 65. Courtesy of Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office James "Jimmy" Fahrenholtz, 65. Courtesy of Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

A former Orleans Parish School Board member booked twice in two days is accused of stealing an iPad from the Capitol and then ditching the tablet in his koi pond.

State Police say James "Jimmy" Fahrenholtz, 65, stole an iPad, legal documents, and a leather briefcase from another lobbyist while in the rotunda area of the State Capitol last Wednesday.

Our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune found court documents that show the briefcase and tablet belong to lobbyist James Nickel.

Sgt. Nick Manale with the Louisiana State Police said Nickel contacted investigators after he tracked the iPad, which he thought was stolen, but found it was on the road out of town.

"He began looking into it and he actually discovered the iPad was not in the Baton Rouge area anymore, it was being transported out of the area and at that time he realized it was a theft and he then reported it to us," Manale said.

Investigators then traced the device to Fahrenholtz's home on Ursulines Avenue, but he told them he knew nothing about the theft.

That's when detectives obtained a search warrant and discovered the briefcase and legal documents, but couldn't initially locate the tablet.

"It took a detective doing a final sweep of the house and noticing a pond in the back yard at which case upon further inspection he noticed the iPad was submerged in the water," Manale said.

"It's all very odd that a former Orleans Parish school official and suspended lawyer would be involved in felony theft," Dane Ciolino, a local attorney, said.

Ciolino said Fahrenholtz is currently barred from practicing law.

"He was suspended for similarly bizarre conduct in which he refused to respond to requests from the disciplinary council, refused to pay his bar dues and get his continuing legal education credits," Ciolino said.

On Monday, Fahrenholtz posted on his Facebook page a message to friends and family writing: "Kids, I'm going to be having some very tough days ahead. I need to deal with my demons and their consequences..."

Fahrenholtz turned himself in Monday at Orleans Parish Prison for obstruction of justice and possession of stolen goods, and then turned himself in Tuesday in East Baton Rouge on a felony theft charge.

He was released in both cases without bond, and Ciolino doesn't think he'll spend time behind bars.

"I don't expect this would result in any jail time, although he will be put on probation. It will be a serious impediment - if not an outright obstacle - to ever practicing law again, if he ever should reapply," Ciolino said.

State Police said there was no obvious link between Fahrenholtz and the owner of the iPad.

"They both work at the Capitol in different capacities, but as far as we can determine there was no connection, there was no financial gain by the theft itself, so that part of the investigation is still ongoing and further charges may be possible if we determine anything else happened," Manale said.

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