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.

But Judge Brooks cited testimony by Agent Cessario that showed that Bolt's fraud went beyond just the faking of documents and signatures. He also created a corporate history linking Situs to a legitimate but short-lived Little Rock nonprofit called Life Preservers Inc. to make it appear that the nonprofit he incorporated in August 2010 had a history of charitable work dating to the early 1990s. (Bolt made his first known claim on unclaimed property about six weeks after incorporating Situs.)

By claiming the unclaimed assets in the name of a cancer research nonprofit, "Mr. Bolt preyed upon what he hoped would be the altruistic nature in everyone," Brooks said.

Bolt also used Ph.D. after his name on Situs documents and routinely answered to "Dr. Bolt," although Cessario said he could find no evidence of academic achievement by Bolt beyond a G.E.D.

"People who engage in garden-variety fraud don't typically hold themselves out as having a Ph.D. in molecular biology," Brooks noted.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overruled a district judge who had applied the two extra sentencing points for sophistication to a defendant who merely used a post office box to further his fraud. But Bolt's scheme "wasn't a simple scheme at all. It was a very complex, well-thought-out scheme," Brooks said, and he applied the points when calculating the sentence.

Ancient History

Brooks, in finding that the loss Bolt caused exceeded $2.5 million and that the fraud was committed by "sophisticated means," agreed with the prosecution's calculation of 25 points on the sentencing matrix. Because Bolt's previous convictions were more than 15 years ago, they were not considered in arriving at the guideline sentencing range of 57 to 71 months.

Under the terms of the plea deal, prosecutor Hines could ask the judge for no more than the high end of the guideline range. Miller argued for the low end because the value of Bolt's fraud barely reached the $2.5 million threshold used to calculate the guideline range.

But federal judges have the authority to "depart" from the guidelines under certain circumstances, including when the guidelines don't adequately reflect the defendant's criminal history and when necessary to protect the public from future crimes. And that's what Brooks did: He recalculated the sentencing range as 100 to 125 months and then sentenced Bolt to the low end of the new range.

"The court is very well persuaded that there's a high likelihood that Mr. Bolt will recidivate," he said.

When he gets out, Bolt is forbidden to engage in any work that involves receiving money from customers or investors. And Brooks specifically ordered him not to try to claim any unclaimed property.

Bolt was led from the courtroom by federal marshals. Asked afterward if his client would appeal the sentence, Miller said, "I won't be surprised."



Please read our comments policy before commenting.