Jim Bolt: 100 Months 'Essentially a Life Sentence'

by Gwen Moritz  on Tuesday, Jun. 24, 2014 11:14 am  

Mug shots from 1981 and 2013 illustrate the criminal history of James W. "Jim" Bolt, who was sentenced Monday to 100 months in federal prison for a fraud scheme valued at $2.5 million.

James W. "Jim" Bolt professed himself "nonplussed" to learn that convictions decades ago would send him to prison for years longer than federal sentencing guidelines suggested.

"I'm 61 years old," Bolt told U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks of Fayetteville in a hearing that lasted more than four hours on Monday. "The range you're talking about is essentially a life sentence."

Bolt had shuffled to the lectern in orange-and-white striped Washington County jail clothing, white socks and plastic slippers inches longer than his feet. Before pleading guilty in January to three counts — wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering — his last conviction had been in the mid-1990s.

"In the interim, I've had a good life. I haven't broken any laws. I haven't even had a traffic ticket," Bolt told the judge. "The mistakes I made were paid for."

Whether Brooks believed that or not, he agreed with defense attorney Andrew R. "Drew" Miller that arrests that didn't result in convictions should not be considered in determining the sentence for Bolt's latest adventure in white-collar crime because they weren't described in enough detail in the government's pre-sentencing report. The judge also agreed that charges of investment fraud brought against Bolt in 2006 should not be considered because a jury delivered a straight-up acquittal.

Brooks nonetheless ordered Bolt to serve 100 months in federal prison — 29 months longer than the maximum contemplated by federal sentencing guidelines — to be followed by three years of supervised release. He fined Bolt $50,000 on top of the $2.5 million in restitution that had been part of a plea deal under which additional charges were dismissed.

(Arvest Bank lost $1.89 million to Bolt's fraud, testimony on Monday revealed.)

"My biggest concern, Mr. Bolt, [is] if you were to get out in 57 to 71 months, you're going to be right back out there committing another scheme," Brooks said.

Three previous convictions and a total of 10 years spent in prison didn't deter Bolt from using phony documents, forged signatures, fake notary seals and fictitious people to steal unclaimed assets being held by the states of California and Nevada.

"You have simply learned from what you participated in years ago and come back with bigger and better," Brooks said.

'A Certain Amount of Genius'

Brooks, who inherited Bolt's case from retiring U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson in April, acknowledged "a certain amount of genius" in the frauds that Bolt laundered through a supposed nonprofit that he operated in Rogers called Situs Cancer Research Center.



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