SHREVEPORT, La. – A 52-year-old Shreveport, La., attorney has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Western District of Texas
James Ward Davis pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with making a false statement in a bankruptcy proceeding on April 22, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas.
According to information presented in court, Davis is a lawyer and former member of the Shreveport law firm Jones, Odom, Davis & Politz. He also operated and controlled Tower Hill Energy Company LLC, which purported to be in the business of acquiring oil, gas and mineral leases, interests and royalties in north Louisiana.
In February 2009, Tower Hill entered into an agreement with a Texas company known as Furie Petroleum. By way of the agreement, Tower Hill was obligated to acquire mineral rights on Furie’s behalf. Furie agreed to deposit $1 million to be used by Tower Hill “solely for the acquisition of Mineral Leases or purchase contracts/options to acquire Mineral Leases.”
A client trust account for Davis’s law firm was used for escrow. After Furie made the deposit, Davis transferred the $1 million out of the firm’s trust account into a Tower Hill escrow account and then used the funds to address personal and business expenditures.
In June 2010, Davis and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Western District of Louisiana. They subsequently sought to convert the bankruptcy case from Chapter 7 to Chapter 11. A hearing was held on that motion in August 2010.
During the proceeding, Davis falsely stated under oath thatFurie was aware of the disposition of the $1million deposit after he removed the funds from the client trust account. In truth, at no time prior to litigation, did Davis advise Furie or its representatives that he had transferred the money out of the Tower Hill escrow account and used the funds for personal and unrelated business purposes.
Davis faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000, at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan.