Louisiana Attorney Sentenced to Five Years

     BEAUMONT, Texas (CN) - A Louisiana attorney was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for taking $1 million of clients' money for himself and his business.
     James Ward Davis, 52, of Shreveport, also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.
     Davis pleaded guilty in April to making false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding.
     Davis, a former member of the law firm of Jones, Odom, Davis & Politz, operated Tower Hill Energy Co., which acquired oil, gas and mineral leases in north Louisiana. His company contracted with League City, Texas-based Furie Petroleum to buy 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," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing the sentence. "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."
     Davis and his wife then filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in June 2010, then sought to convert the case into a Chapter 11, to reorganize rather than liquidate.
     During a hearing on that motion, Davis falsely stated under oath that Furie was aware of the transfer of the $1 million out of its client trust account, the U.S. attorney said.
     "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," prosecutors said.
     Furie did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.