Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - A Wyncote, Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 121 months in prison for participating in a bribery conspiracy involving the former Sheriff of Philadelphia.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.
James Davis, 68, the owner of multiple advertising and title firms, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who also ordered Davis to pay $ 872,395.83 in restitution and to forfeit $1,718,540. On April 3, 2018, after a six-week jury trial, Davis was convicted of conspiracy, honest services fraud, and tax offenses.
“James Davis used his wealth to line the pockets of the former Sheriff of Philadelphia in a corrupt exchange for contracts and business,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “Today’s sentence should deter both public officials and would-be bribe payers from engaging in corruption of any kind.”
“The citizens of Philadelphia are entitled to the honest services of their public servants, and James Davis’s actions deprived them of that from the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Davis received millions of dollars of business from the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, having obtained nearly exclusive control over the operation of the Sheriff sales and receiving over $7 million in advertising fees for those sales. The sentence imposed today sends a powerful message to public servants and vendors who choose to do business by their own set of rules.”
“There’s an old saying that you have to spend money to make money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Harpster. “Certainly, this is not the way to do it. James Davis brazenly bought off then-Sheriff Green in order to boost his businesses. This illicit quid pro quo deprived Philadelphians of the honest services they expect and deserve from those who hold elected office. The FBI is committed to fighting such corruption, which does real and lasting damage to the public trust.”
“James Davis willfully and intentionally violated his legal duty to file his tax returns and pay the correct amount of tax,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Ficco. “The courts have overwhelmingly and consistently shown that people who engage in such criminal behavior will be held accountable; as evidenced by the sentence handed down today.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, Davis, in exchange for receiving, maintaining and increasing business with the Sheriff’s office, gave former Sheriff John Green bribes and personal benefits totaling over $675,000, including purchasing and renovating a home and selling the home at a loss to Green, hiring Green’s wife as a sub-contractor, facilitating over $65,000 in hidden campaign contributions to Green’s 2007 re-election campaign, paying $148,000 in campaign advertising for Green’s 2007 re-election campaign, and paying Green over $300,000 in gifts and interest-free loans. In exchange, the evidence presented at trial showed that Green helped Davis maintain and increase his business with the Sheriff’s Office, specifically, business involving sheriff’s sales of foreclosed property. From approximately 2002 through 2010, Davis’ companies received over $35 million from the Philadelphia Sheriff’s office from the sheriff’s sales business.
Additionally, the evidence presented at trial revealed that Davis also filed false 2007 business and personal tax returns, and failed to file personal tax returns for 2008, 2009, and 2010.
The FBI and IRS-CI investigated this case. Trial Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah L. Grieb and Christopher Diviny of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.