Following is the question-answer session between the media and David Finn, James Davis’ attorney, after Davis pleaded guilty to three felony counts in the Stanford financial scandal Thursday in Houston. It opens with Finn’s statement.
– FINN: I came into town yesterday, met with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and I can tell you that the focus at this point in time, in addition to trying to find this missing money, which may be located in accounts in Switzerland, the focus is on the regulator, Mr. King.
We’ve spent quite a few hours in the past days and weeks answering questions that relate directly to the regulator in Antigua, Mr. King, in trying to assist them in the government’s extradition efforts. And I expect to see in the next two or three weeks, Mr. King will be brought back to the United States. And I, uh, don’t know if he’s going to go to trial or cooperate.
At any event, the focus has been on locating missing assets and on Mr. Leroy King.
Q: What are the penalties Mr. Davis will face?
A: Mr. Davis is looking at a total statutory range of 30 years in the federal penitentiary. There are three counts he pleaded guilty to, two of them carry five-year caps, one carries a 20-year cap. If all three counts run concurrently, or together, then the maximum sentence is 20 years.
If, on the other hand, the judge decides to stack the sentences, and they run consecutively, then you’re looking at up to 30 years.
Obviously, we’re hopeful that the government, the investors and ultimately the judge will take into consideration the fact that we have been cooperating. And as far as I can tell at this point, we are the only folks associated with this Stanford nightmare that are accepting responsibility and actively trying to assist the government and the investors.
Q: Will they recommend the sentence guidelines?
A: The guideline level that we pled to, uh, is off the chart. I mean literally, if you look at the federal sentencing guidelines, you’re not going to see a Level 46, because it just goes up to 43. So, we’re going to be looking at some very, very stiff punishment down the road.
My client knows he’s going to do time. Probation in a case like this is going to be out of the question.
Ultimately, it will be up to Judge Hittner’s call as to whether we have actively assisted and to what extent that assistance should be taken into account and consideration.
Q: Why did he decide to accept such a heavy sentence?
A: Well, he had a heavy heart the first time I met him. James came in and he was very contrite, not like some of my clients are. Some people come in and they just don’t want to ever accept responsibility and they don’t ever own up to what they did. And James Davis was not like that.
He came in and said, “I did wrong, I knew I was doing wrong, I did it for a long time. I allowed myself to be used by this Stanford fellow, who’s a larger-than-life action figure,” as you’ve probably figured.
But ultimately, he knew he did wrong, and, uh, we … I tell you what, the very first time he met me, I picked up the phone and called Rose Romero at the SEC – I used to work with Rose at the Dallas U.S. Attorney’s Office – and I said, “I’ve got a client here, Jim Davis, who wants to come in and come clean and de-brief. Are you interested?”
And her response was, “Boy, howdy, let’s do it, like immediately.”
And the very next day, we were in meeting with the investigators.
Q: Besides his pangs of conscience, were there any signs you felt like you could get a better deal than this?
A: I think that you will see, if you haven’t already, that the evidence in this case is overwhelming. Uhm, the victims’ stories resonate. I mean, some of these folks that are sending me letters, I mean, it just breaks your heart – people on fixed incomes, people with special-needs children, people who lost all of their money, all of their retirement. It’s heartbreaking, what happened.
It wasn’t a particularly sophisticated scheme. You know, early on, people would say this was very sophisticated, Madoff-esque, it’s really not. It’s more Enron-esque, smoke and mirrors.
Q: So, you weren’t going to get a better deal out of the prosecutors?
A: No, no, absolutely not. I mean, this is what it is, folks. The big case, went over a lot of years, a lot of deception. Regulators that didn’t regulate. Auditors that didn’t audit. Lawyers that didn’t lawyer.
Uhm, it’s just, it’s awful.
Q: Was this a con from the beginning or was it a legitimate bank?
A: That’s a good question. And the answer is: Maybe for a month or two. I’m not kidding you. If you look at the plea agreement, you’ll see just how far back this fraud went.
It didn’t get cooked up over night. It goes back to almost the very beginning. So the answer is yes.
Q: What was the motive, what drew Davis in?
A: Greed. I mean, why does anybody do anything that they know is wrong? I mean, why does anybody knowingly make mistakes?
You know, sometimes it’s lust, sometimes somebody might be addicted to something, sometimes it’s good old-fashioned greed. And frankly, I think he allowed himself to be used by Stanford.
And Stanford, by the way, sized my guy up in Baylor. You’ve got Allen Stanford, larger than life, and you’ve got this guy Jim Davis. My guy really looked up to Allen – literally and figuratively.
And Allen Stanford measured my man, James Davis, and he knew right out of the gate he could control Jim Davis, he could manipulate him.
The same with Laura Holt.
Allen Stanford uses people. But he’s not an idiot. He sizes people up, plugs them into the equation, and uses them.
And did my client allow himself to be used? Absolutely.
And for that, he’s going to get punished.
Q: Well, didn’t Davis just fess up to it after he got caught? (indistinguishable other question)
A: I don’t know if that’s truthful …. I think we can go back and follow the money, and here we’ve got a guy (Stanford) blowing $20 million on a polo match, got 10 girlfriends in 10 different countries, and is just plowing through money.
Now, you trace the money and it’s gonna go into Allen Stanford’s pocket. So, the only way he walks, in my opinion, is if he’s able to convince a jury that my guy was the mastermind, my guy came up with this, my guy cooked all of this up. Good luck selling that story.
’Cause if that’s the case, my guy’s the dumbest criminal that ever existed, because all the money went into Stanford’s pockets, not Jim Davis’.
So, I wouldn’t want to be sellin’ that story to a jury.
Q: Does he (Davis) have $1 billion?
A: Who, my guy? My guy, whatever assets he has, which are very few, are all locked up.
So, is he going to be able to come up with a billion dollars? No way. He can’t even pay me. So, you know, good luck with a billion dollars.
Q: Did he have those assets, prior to being locked up?
A: My client? No, my client made, I think after taxes, maybe 5 or 6 million dollars over the past eight to 10 years with Stanford. So, I mean, my guy does not have assets in the U.S. or otherwise.
Q: Did Davis have any reaction to Mr. Stanford’s condition in the hospital?
A: We were as surprised as you were that Allen Stanford wasn’t here, uh, today. We heard it was some sort of heart irregularity. I mean, you know, any human being, if they’re hurting and have a heart condition, you feel for them, even if it’s Allen Stanford, but we were just surprised.
Q: Do you think it had anything to do with that your client was going to plead guilty today?
A: I think it had everything to do with the fact that my client and I and Judge Hittner and the government were going to be getting together in this courtroom today. I mean, what is this, serendipity? What are the odds?
I’m sure he’s under a lot of stress right now.
Q: What stress is your client under right now?
A: He’s realistic. I mean he feels good that we are moving forward towards a resolution. And, like I said, he knows he’s not gettin’ probation. He knows he’s not going to get home confinement. He knows he hurt a lot of people.
But I think, when you’re going through a case that’s this big and has this much attention, as you get closer to the end zone, if you will, or the end of the race, you start to feel a little bit better. Some of the uncertainty, uhm, is taken from you. And, you know, he’s looking at a lot of time, but that sometimes is better than the uncertainty of not knowing what in the world’s going to happen.
Q: He’s only owned up to it, taken this responsibility after he got caught. What does that say to you?
A: Well, actually, he was the one that quote “came clean” and brought the House of Cards down in Miami well before anybody quote “got caught.”
And remember, my client did not get indicted. My client initially did not get arrested. I mean, we went hat in hand to the SEC and Rose Romero the day after he hired me. So, that’s not runnin’ and hidin’, in my opinion.
Q: What about sending Laura Holt to testify before the SEC, instead of going himself?
A: Yes, Mr. Stanford and my client, uh, both participated in the decision to send Laura Holt over to the SEC. So, don’t get the wrong idea, am I telling you that James Davis came clean to the SEC, no, I’m not saying that.
In fact, the contrary is true. We pled guilty to trying to deceive the SEC, but my point is, after that point in time, is when my client and I began to cooperate. We’re not runnin’, we’re not hidin’. Everything the government has asked us to do, every single thing, we’ve done, including going to his old farm in Mississippi and helping the FBI dive team dive into the tanks and ponds to look for and retrieve evidence.
And, my client also is doing this on his own dime.
He and his wife get in their car, they drive to Houston to court, they drive to Houston to cooperate, they drive to Mississippi to show the dive team where things might be, so, I mean, we’re doing everything we can to help get at the evidence.
Q: What’s in in the pond?
A: You’ll find out down the road. (chuckle) I wish.
Q: Will any U.S. regulators get in trouble for taking bribes?
A: Not that I’m aware of. But I don’t, I uh, I can tell you this: Read the plea agreement language very, very carefully and I think you will be able to determine that the government, in all likelihood, is not finished with their indictments. Read the plea agreement carefully, and, if you’ve been following this case for a while, I think you’ll be able to see that not all the shoes have dropped yet.
Q: What’s a “captive auditor”? (mentioned in the government’s charges about the Stanford allegations)
A: Look, read the plea agreement carefully. It is as detailed as any plea agreement you will ever read. And I think it will answer any lingering questions that you have.
One last question, anybody?
Q: Your name, please.
A: David Finn.
Q: What’s he doing in Michigan?
A: He’s got family there.
Q: Is he ….
A: The government has taken everything that they own, including the property in Mississippi.
Yeh, I can tell you he, uh, just recently got a job and is working on a farm in Michigan.
Q: Doing what?
A: Manual labor. In a hope to pay me some day.
Q: (indistinguishable question)
A: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t have to plead a client simply out to get paid. And, uhm, many times regardless of whether I’ve been retained for a fee or if the client has paid in full, if I think the right thing to do is to do is to go to trial, we’ll try the case.
Q: Is he really working on a farm?
A: Manual labor. $10 an hour. That’s all I can tell you.
Q: Will he be sentenced Nov. 10, before Stanford case wraps up?
A: I think it’s highly unlikely that my client will be sentenced before the Stanford matter gets concluded, uh, with a jury verdict. So. this sentencing date that you heard mentioned earlier, I doubt very seriously if we’ll be going to sentencing on that day. It’ll be after the trial.
Yeh, because, think about it, the judge is going to want to evaluate, and so will the government, the quality of my client’s cooperation. Right? If he falls flat on this face, and they think that he’s lying, you know, or holding back, you know, they wanna keep their thumb on him.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal