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

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

Most of last week’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.

Bolt’s name wasn’t on the fraudulent documents used to claim $108,000 from the Nevada estate of Halloween Barigar, and backing that amount out of the fraud total attributed to Bolt would mean two fewer points on the sentencing matrix.

Cessario testified that the claim was signed by Bolt’s girlfriend, Nikki Sailer, and by the elusive Leah Cleveland and that the money flowed to the same Liberty Bank account that Bolt used for the four fraudulent claims that did bear his name.

Even Drew Miller, Bolt’s defense attorney, was persuaded.

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

Judge Brooks agreed. He also rejected Miller’s attempt to minimize the sophistication of Bolt’s fraud. It “wasn’t a simple scheme at all. It was a very complex, well-thought-out scheme,” the judge said, and he applied the additional points when calculating the sentence.

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 his plea deal, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen 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.

The last time Bolt was convicted, in 1992, he appealed on the grounds that he hadn’t personally waived his right to a jury trial, even though he was there when his lawyer did it for him. The Arkansas Supreme Court rejected his appeal, but used the case to clarify the rules on waiving jury trials. As his attorney said, he may well appeal again.

Meanwhile, he’s neck-deep in the case of Fred Bremer of Rogers, who was charged last August with first-degree murder in the death of Jack McCain, also of Rogers, in February 2011.

McCain, 67, was a business associate of both Bremer and Bolt. He was shot repeatedly and left dead on a roadside near Powell, Missouri.

But that’s another story.



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