Stanford ex-CFO Davis gets five-year prison sentence

Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:47pm EST
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By Anna Driver and Eileen O'Grady

HOUSTON (Reuters) - James Davis, the government's top witness in convicted swindler Allen Stanford's fraud trial, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for his role in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

Davis, 64, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to three charges and could have been sentenced to 30 years, told the court in a breaking voice: "I am ashamed and I am embarrassed." He added that he let down his family, co-workers and thousands of investors.

Davis pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to obstruct a Securities and Exchange investigation.

Stanford was convicted last year of bilking thousands of investors using fake certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank in Antigua. He is serving a 110-year prison term in Florida.

Davis spent a total of 10 days on the witness stand during two trials, including five days testifying against Stanford, his boss for more than 20 years and a former college roommate.

Davis' lawyer, David Finn, had asked for a four-year sentence while prosecutors sought a 10-year sentence.

Prosecutors said Davis' assistance "was invaluable to the government's efforts to fully understand the (Stanford International Bank) fraud, to locate SIB's remaining assets, and to identify and hold accountable the individuals responsible."

U.S. District Judge David Hittner cited Davis' early cooperation with prosecutors, beginning just weeks after the government seized Stanford's assets in 2009, when he handed down the punishment.   Continued...

Stanford Financial Group's former chief investment officer James Davis leaves federal court with his wife Lori and attorney David Finn (L) in Houston August 27, 2009. REUTERS/Richard Carson