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Rogers Businessman James Bolt Charged With 12 Counts of Fraud, Money Laundering

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James W. Bolt, the ex-convict who was arrested Thursday on a federal criminal complaint, was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville on six counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

One count of mail fraud, the four counts of wire fraud and the two money laundering charges relate to a previously disclosed scheme by which Bolt, 60, allegedly claimed early this year $1.9 million worth of stock listed as unclaimed property by the state of California.

The other five counts of wire mail fraud involve an earlier scheme, from 2011, by which Bolt allegedly received more than $150,000 by similarly laying claim to unclaimed property listed by the California State Controller’s Office.

Bolt – known variously as Jim or Jimm – waived the question of probable cause at his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Erin Setser. A hearing on his continued detention – in the Benton County jail on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service – is set for Wednesday afternoon.

Bolt did not enter a plea on Tuesday.

In an affidavit filed last month in federal court, FBI Special Agent Robert Cessario said Bolt had used backdated documents bearing forged signatures and phony notarization to make it appear that executives of a company called Pacific Finanical Research Inc. had donated $1.9 million worth of stock to a company called Life Preservers Inc., which was later renamed Situs Cancer Research Center.

Bolt, according to Cessario, represented that he was executive director of Situs, and he claimed PFR’s unclaimed stock on Situs’ behalf, order the stock sold and then used the proceeds to buy real estate, two used vehicles and five used aircraft ranging in value from $16,559 to $107,500.

The newly revealed scheme from 2011 involved unclaimed property belonging to a company called In House Pharmacies Inc., which was being held by a company called Express Scripts Inc. As with the PFR claim, Bolt allegedly produced documents indicating that In House Pharmacies had donated the money to another of Bolt’s corporate entities, Woodland Cancer Research Center, which was supposedly merged with Situs. Based on the documentation he provided, Express Scripts Inc. issued five checks payable to Situs totaling $153,444.74, all on April 12, 2011.

Between April and October 2011, Bolt allegedy used $76,700 from the Express Script payments to buy five vehicles, some of which were titled to Bolt and some to Situs.

Although federal prosecutors have sought civil forfeiture of three pieces of real estate in Rogers – 1222 W. Poplar St., the location of Situs Cancer Research Center, for which Bolt paid $660,626 on Jan. 28; Bolt’s residence at 303 S. Rife St., for which he paid $208,395 on Jan. 25; and 1204 W. Poplar St., for which he paid $99,765 on Jan. 22 – only the Situs location and the Rife Street residence are referenced in the complaint. Those purchases form the basis of the two money-laundering charges.

Bolt has filed responses to the civil forfeiture suits by saying he had “no personal present interest” in any of the three properties. The two on Poplar Street, he said, are owned solely by Situs Cancer Research Center, while the Rife Street residence is “the sole property of the David James Bolt Irrevocable Trust.” A law-enforcement source identified David James Bolt as James W. Bolt’s teenaged son.

Among the items seized in a search of Bolt’s Rife Street residents on June 24 was a “thumb drive” that contained documents used in the alleged schemes, including documents that included preprinted images of notary stamps. The thumb drive also contained “numerous” corporate donation agreements “in template form” and “numerous images of notary stamps.”

U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge of the Western District of Arkansas intends to issue a statement Wednesday morning concerning the charges against Bolt, his assistant said.

The complaint unsealed Tuesday is not Bolt’s first encounter with the federal justice system. In 1982, he was convicted in federal court in Oklahoma on two counts of mail fraud and two counts of making false statements to a federally insured bank. He spent more than two years in federal prison.

In 2007, Bolt, his lawyer (the late John Dodge) and two other men were acquitted by a federal court jury of fraud charges related to their attempts to find investors for a Rogers company called Shimoda-Atlantic, which was looking to fund clinical trials of a cancer treatment.

In 2002 and 2003, Bolt was chief operating officer of a penny stock company in Springdale first called Golf Entertainment and then Sienna Broadcasting Corp. Reporting on the company by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal prompted a libel suit against the newspapers.

While the libel suit was ultimately dismissed, Arkansas Business Publishing Group did win a $92,000 judgment against Bolt, his lawyer and three companies they incorporated for infringing on ABPG’s trademarks. The judgment has never been paid.

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