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August 28, 2009

A real head scratcher

James Davis The Stanford Financial Group scandal has been anything but typical, but yesterday's developments may have been the most bizarre yet.

The big news, other than the hospitalization of R. Allen Stanford, was the guilty plea that Stanford's right-hand man and long-time friend, James Davis, entered in connection with a plea bargain that he worked out with federal prosecutors.

The background section of the plea deal makes for some entertaining reading (bribes to, and a blood oath with, an Antiguan bank regulator?). But the more interesting aspect is that Davis' plea is the latest chapter in a most curious defense strategy.

From almost the outset of the Stanford Financial scandal, Davis' attorney -- Dallas-based attorney David Finn -- has been telling any media outlet that was willing to quote him that his client was guilty of a huge fraud on Stanford investors and that Davis was going to plead guilty to charges as soon as he could work out details of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Even the most rabid prosecutors would never risk making such public statements, so effectively Finn has been doing much of the prosecutors' public relations work for them.

And now we finally know the terms of the plea deal between the prosecutors and Davis.

On one hand, David pled guilty “in exchange for” a Level 43 under the Sentencing Guidelines (reduced from a Level 46 -- do the Sentencing Guidelines even go up that high?!) “with acceptance” deal. Based on my understanding, that means that Davis has agreed to a prison sentence of 30 years to life. Davis is 60, so assuming that he gets the full benefit of the the traditional 1/3rd off under the guidelines for being a good snitch (no cinch bet in Judge Hittner's court), Davis will do 20 years and be 80 by the time he shuffles out of prison.

On the other hand, the prosecution "gets” Davis as their primary witness, who -- according to the prosecution's own theory of the case -- was one of the key participants in a six billion dollar scam from the beginning. If, as prosecutors alleged during the hearing, Stanford Financial was a “giant house of cards," then why cut a “deal” with the guy who was one of the lead architects of the scam?

Well, we now have the answer to that question. The plea deal is not a "deal" at all. It's total surrender.

Davis is reportedly working as a day laborer at $10 per hour to pay his legal fees. From the looks of it, he is getting the quality of representation that he is currently capable of paying for.

Posted by Tom at August 28, 2009 12:01 AM |

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