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

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

Curing cancer was not the only recurring theme in Bolt’s astonishing career. In 1976, he was convicted of impersonating an officer in Oklahoma. In 1983, he was convicted, again in Oklahoma, of mail fraud and making false statements to a federally insured bank. In 1992, he was convicted in Washington County of theft by deception.

At last week’s hearing, Judge Brooks read aloud from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Bolt’s appeal of his 1983 conviction:

“Our review of the evidence establishes that Bolt was involved in elaborate schemes to defraud various companies and individuals. These schemes were built upon a fictitious business enterprise, known as Saturation Systems, which he ran from a small Tulsa office. The Government has aptly described this business as being an enterprise which included a group of imaginary employees, engaged in developing imaginary products and services, located in various imaginary locations in the United States, Scotland, Norway and other overseas locations. The schemes involved the sophisticated use of computers and telex machines and the preparation of various false documents created by Bolt, who appeared to be a skilled draftsman and printer.”

With only a few changes in the wording, Brooks said, he could use the same language to describe the scam for which Bolt was again in federal court.

“You could, your honor,” Bolt agreed matter-of-factly.

In the latest case, Bolt, in search of assets to steal, trolled the unclaimed property websites maintained by state treasurers. At least five times he created phony documents indicating that the last known owner had donated the assets to Situs. 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 good deeds dating to the early 1990s.

The documents were littered with a mix of fact and fiction. Bolt usually signed his own name (albeit with “Ph.D.” attached) and used Situs’ Rogers address. He sometimes managed to find the names of real people associated with the unclaimed assets and use their names. He used fake notary stamps, but in one case he forged the signature of a real notary public.

One constant was Leah Cleveland, the comptroller-treasurer of Situs. Her ever-changing signature appeared on numerous documents, and Bolt blamed her when an auditor from Nevada investigated Situs’ claim to $108,000 from the estate of a Nevada woman with the improbable name of Halloween Barigar, who died in 2002 at age 96.

In February 2011, he received $153,000 from California that way; three months later, he got another $317,000. In 2012, he received $43,000 in June and the Halloween Barigar money in November. In December 2012, he hit the jackpot: $1.9 million that belonged to 401(k) accounts for former employees of a defunct California company called Pacific Financial Research Inc.

Going for the big payoff may have been Bolt’s downfall. A company that specializes in matching up unclaimed assets with the rightful owners in exchange for a commission was also working on the PFR account. When the investments held for PFR were turned over to Situs instead, the company alerted the Arkansas Securities Department, which called in the FBI.

Cessario, the special agent assigned to the case, testified last week that he looked all over for Leah Cleveland. He ultimately concluded that she didn’t exist, as did the judge. Brooks, issuing findings of fact from the bench, specifically concluded the Leah Cleveland was “a figment of Mr. Bolt’s imagination.”

Bolt has yet to admit as much. In fact, in his attempt to delay sentencing, Bolt said he was still waiting for a response to his Freedom of Information Act request for all information the FBI had collected on Leah Cleveland.

 

 

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