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.

For his part, Bolt acknowledged that, with a few changes in details, a description of his 1982 crimes written by a federal appeals court would apply to the crimes for which he was arrested last August. He had been in county jail — first in Benton County, then in Washington County — ever since.

Most of Monday's hearing was spent debating whether Bolt had stolen $2.4 million or $2.5 million with his latest scheme and whether it could properly be considered "sophisticated."

The questions were not mere quibbles: Crimes valued at $2.5 million or more and frauds committed by use of "sophisticated means" get more points on the sentencing guideline matrix, points that can mean additional months or years in federal prison.

Neither Bolt's name or signature appeared on the fraudulent documents used to claim $108,000 from the estate of a Nevada woman with the improbable name of Halloween Barigar, who died in 2002 at age 96. If that amount were backed out of the total fraud attributed to Bolt, it would mean two fewer points on the sentencing matrix.

FBI Special Agent Robert Cessario, under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Hines, testified that the documents used to make the Nevada claim were similar to computer documents found in a search of Bolt's home, and they were signed by Bolt's girlfriend, Nikki Sailer, and by a "Leah Cleveland," who was supposed to be a Situs executive. His investigation led Cessario, and ultimately Judge Brooks, to conclude that Leah Cleveland was not a real person.

Regardless of who signed the documents, the money from Halloween Barigar's estate was transferred into Situs' same Liberty Bank account, controlled by Bolt, into which the proceeds of four similar claims for assets held by the state of California were deposited.

After Cessario's testimony, Bolt's defense attorney gave up hope of keeping the Barigar $108,000 out of the fraud total.

"I do concede now that we know who got the money and who spent the money," Miller said.

The judge agreed.

"It is well established, and I think Mr. Miller has even conceded, that Bolt is Situs," Brooks said.

How Sophisticated?

Miller, in attempting to minimize his client's punishment, argued that Bolt's scheme was not sophisticated enough to warrant two extra points on the sentencing matrix. "In any fraud there's fraud," he told the court.



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