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Bolt Sentencing Could Hinge on ‘Extraordinarily Lengthy Criminal History’

3 min read

James W. “Jim” Bolt’s defense attorney has been squabbling with federal prosecutors over the seriousness of the crimes to which Bolt pleaded guilty in January.

In exchange for having some counts dropped, Bolt admitted acquiring unclaimed property being held by the state of California by creating phony documents indicating that the property had been donated to his Situs Cancer Research Center in Rogers.

Defender Andrew R. Miller of Rogers made a valiant effort to keep the official value of Bolt’s crimes below $2.5 million and to discount the prosecution’s contention that a bunch of phony contracts and forged documents should be considered “sophisticated means” of fraudulently taking possession of the $2.4 million that Bolt admits he stole.

“[O]ne would expect any intent to defraud to be accompanied by fraudulent documents,” Miller suggested.

Size matters and so does sophistication when calculating the guideline sentence for a defendant convicted in federal court. Miller has argued that Bolt should face between 37 and 46 months in federal prison, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen R. Hines has made a case for the upper end of a calculated range of 57 to 71 months.

But when Bolt is sentenced Monday morning in federal court in Fayetteville, neither calculation may matter.

That’s because U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks, who took over the case from retiring Judge Robert Dawson in April, has indicated an inclination to throw the book at Bolt.

“After reviewing the pre-sentence investigation report” in preparation for Monday’s sentencing, Brooks wrote, “the Court hereby gives notice … that the Court is considering an upward departure under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and/or an upward variance …”

Federal law outlines a number of reasons that a judge may impose a sentence that is harsher than the guidelines recommend, including “to protect the public from future crimes of the defendant.”

“In this case,” the judge wrote on Friday the 13th, “Bolt has an extraordinarily lengthy criminal history, going back more than forty years.” He has been arrested at least six times and spent, cumulatively, more than 10 years behind bars, although none of his previous convictions can be counted in the sentencing guideline range because they were more than 15 years ago.

“It appears to the Court that Bolt has not been deterred from engaging in criminal activity by previous periods of incarceration or arrest, and he is therefore highly likely to recidivate,” Brooks concluded.

No Stalling

Last Monday, the first business day after Brooks gave notice of his hard-line predisposition, Bolt and attorney Miller filed a motion to have the sentencing delayed.

Bolt, who has been complaining about his health for the 10 months that he’s been jailed, first in Benton County and currently in Washington County, “has just been diagnosed” with COPD and needs testing for that and may need a “neuropsychiatric examination which may impact any sentencing,” the motion said.

What’s more, Bolt hasn’t gotten a response to a Freedom of Information Act request concerning “individuals suspected to be undercover FBI agents, that may or may not have been involved in the conduct charged.”

Brooks immediately denied the motion for a delay in sentencing.

Curiously, one of Bolt’s FOIA requests concerns one Leah Cleveland. It’s hard to tell from the ambiguous wording of the motion whether Bolt thinks she may have been an FBI operative, but this is clear: Her name and signature, as comptroller-treasurer of Situs Cancer Research Center, were all over the phony documents he used to fraudulently claim unclaimed property in California and Nevada.

Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, say the FBI “has never been able to locate or verify [Cleveland] as an actual person” and believes she was “a fictitious person ‘made up’ by the defendant.”

Maybe she’ll show up for his sentencing.

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