By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
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Many movers, shakers and investors throughout Northeast Mississippi remember James Milton “Jim” Davis, the international businessman with the easy smile and the quick, firm handshake.
They invested their life savings and retirement funds in certificates of deposit in his boss’ Stanford International Bank Ltd., based on the Caribbean island of Antigua-Barbuda.
By the middle of 2009, few of them came away from the Stanford collapse with much of what they’d placed into safekeeping.
Davis, who pleaded guilty to his part in what the government calls a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme, testified last week against the sole shareholder in the empire, R. Allen Stanford, as Stanford defends himself in a Houston, Texas, federal court.
By his own words, Davis told the jury he is a liar, a fraudster, a cheat and a coward.
While he waits to see how much prison time he’ll be sentenced to soon, he lives in a nice house in Michigan near his wife Lori’s family, and until recently, handled a fruit farm’s books. He said he quit in anticipation of other responsibilities, such as his testimony in this trial and in a later one against other ex-Stanford executives and an ex-bank regulator in Antigua.
The Baldwyn High School graduate said he met Stanford in 1973 at Baylor University, after Davis put an ad for a roommate on the business school bulletin board.
“One night after, I heard a knock on the door and it was Mr. Stanford with my ad in his hand,” Davis recalled to a courtroom full of spectators.
“He said, I’m Allen Stanford and I’m your new roommate.”
Davis said they roomed together until December of that year. Why no longer?
“It got a little hectic and I moved out,” he said.
Davis didn’t see Stanford again until he was hired in 1988.
On the courtroom stand last week, Davis said across his 16-17 years with Stanford, he was paid $14 million. He has none now, a court-appointed receiver took the last $330,000 from a personal bank account.
Today, he says he’s living on social security and a small pension.