Jim Bolt Criminal Saga Reveals ‘A Certain Amount Of Genius'

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Jun. 30, 2014 12:00 am  

(Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of business history feature stories. Suggestions for future Fifth Monday articles are welcome. Please contact Gwen Moritz at (501) 372-1443 or GMoritz@ABPG.com.)

James W. Bolt shuffled to the lectern in federal court in Fayetteville last Monday, and it was hard to tell if his gait was the result of the cardiopulmonary diseases that he references constantly in legal pleadings or of the oversized plastic jail slippers that were inches longer than his feet.

Bolt — known as Jim or Jimm — 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. “The range you’re talking about is essentially a life sentence.”

Before the end of the sentencing hearing, which lasted more than four hours, Brooks would sentence Bolt to 100 months in federal prison, 29 months longer than the standard sentencing guideline range — and fine him $50,000. On top of all that, Bolt agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution when he pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Bolt’s sentence could be reduced only slightly for good behavior. He isn’t even likely to get credit for cooperating with a murder investigation in Missouri. And he may well appeal the sentence — “I wouldn’t be surprised,” his defense attorney, Andrew W. “Drew” Miller, said. But whenever he gets out, unless he’s right about dying in prison, Bolt will then have three years of supervised release.

The Bolt who appeared before Brooks has been held in county jails, first in Benton County and then in Washington County, since his arrest last August.

He recited a list of medications he has been taking to control his heart rhythm, high blood pressure and the newly diagnosed COPD that he had vainly hoped would win him a delay of sentencing. But age and infirmity and even the prospect of returning to prison after 18 years of freedom did not appear to prompt any remorse or soul-searching.

“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.”

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.

“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.

“You have simply learned from what you participated in years ago and come back with bigger and better,” the judge added.



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