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Press Release

Philadelphia Business Man Sentenced to Prison for Honest Services Fraud, Tax Crimes, and Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA, PA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that James Davis, the former vendor who operated Sheriff sales for the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced today to 121 months’ imprisonment, and ordered to pay $872,395.00 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $1.718,540.00 in forfeiture.  The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Wendy Beetlestone.  

In April 2018, after a six-week trial, a federal jury convicted Davis of conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, filing false federal tax returns for 2007, and willful failure to file federal tax returns for 2008, 2009, and 2010.   The conspiracy and honest services fraud counts charged Davis with defrauding the citizens of Philadelphia of the honest services of the Sheriff of Philadelphia, John Green, from 2002 to 2011, by giving Green a hidden stream of personal benefits in exchange for Davis and his companies maintaining and receiving increased business and fees from the Sheriff’s Office. 

The indictment charged Davis with (1) purchasing, renovating and selling a home to Green at a loss to Davis in 2002 and 2003, which was not reported on Green’s financial disclosure forms; (2) hiring and paying Green’s wife over $89,000 as a subcontractor from 2004 through 2010, which was not reported to the City; (3) facilitating over $65,000 in hidden campaign contributions to Green’s 2007 reelection campaign, which was not reported in Green’s campaign reports; (4) paying $148,000 in advertising for Green’s 2007 reelection campaign, which was not reported in Green’s campaign reports; and (5) giving Green, in 2010, $320,000 as gifts and interest-free loans to help Green purchase a retirement home in Florida.  In exchange, Green helped Davis maintain and increase his business with the Sheriff’s Office.

“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 Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “Certainly, this is not the way to do it.  James Davis brazenly bribed 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 Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy 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.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and Office of Inspector General, City of Philadelphia, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah L. Grieb and Christopher Diviny and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke.

Updated March 2, 2019