Shreveport lawyer ordered to repay $1M, sentenced to prison
POSTED: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 1:59pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 4:22pm
Shreveport, LA — A 52-year-old Shreveport, Louisiana attorney has been sentenced to federal prison in the Western District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas.
James Ward Davis pleaded guilty on Apr. 22, 2014 to a false statement in a bankruptcy proceeding and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walker. Davis was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1 million and then immediately remanded into custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to information presented in court, Davis, a lawyer and former member of the Shreveport law firm Jones, Odom, Davis & Politz, operated and controlled Tower Hill Energy Company, LLC, which purported to be in the business of acquiring oil, gas, and mineral leases, interests, and royalties in north Louisiana.
In February 2009, Tower Hill entered into an agreement with a Texas company known as Furie Petroleum. By way of the agreement, Tower Hill was obligated to acquire mineral rights on Furie’s behalf. Furie agreed to deposit $1 million to be used by Tower Hill “solely for the acquisition of Mineral Leases or purchase contracts/options to acquire Mineral Leases.” A client trust account for Davis’s law firm was used for escrow. After Furie made the deposit, Davis transferred the $1 million out of the firm’s trust account into a Tower Hill escrow account and then used the funds to address personal and business expenditures.
In June 2010, Davis and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Western District of Louisiana. They subsequently sought to convert the bankruptcy case from Chapter 7 to Chapter 11. A hearing was held on that motion in August 2010. During the proceeding, Davis falsely stated under oath that Furie was aware of the disposition of the $1million deposit after he removed the funds from the client trust account. In truth, at no time prior to litigation, did Davis advise Furie or its representatives that he had transferred the money out of the Tower Hill escrow account and used the funds for personal and unrelated business purposes.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Eastern District of Texas Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan.