HOUSTON, TX (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — James Watson, the man who bamboozled investors into pouring at least $2.5 million into a festival scheme, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay $391,690.50 restitution to Bank of America, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced today.
Watson plead guilty to a number of crimes, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud as part of a scheme where he bilked at least 18 investors, including a 92-year-old woman and her 72-year-old daughter, of at least $2.5 million by posing as a successful concert promoter. The prosecutor alleged that he made fraudulent misrepresentations to investors he solicited for the "Texas Music Festival," which was to be held in Houston between August 30 and September 1, 2008.
Watson falsely told investors that a charity would be holding the ticket receipts for the concert and promised investors not only return of their investment, but a substantial profit. In actuality, Watson siphoned investor funds to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle, withdrew the $400,000 from Bank of America with a kited check, and disappeared on what was supposed to have been the third day of the Texas Music Festival without paying the artists, vendors, or the investors. The Texas Music Festival was scheduled to take place at Eleanor Tinsley Pavilion in Houston from August 30, 2008 – September 1, 2008.
This wasn't Watson's first brush with the law. He was on federal supervised release after completing a prison term imposed following a 2002 conviction in the Eastern District of California for engaging in essentially the same scam related to the Sacramento Jazz Festival in California.
As a result of the Texas Music Festival scam, the district court in the Eastern District of California revoked Watson's previous term of supervised release in December 2008 and handed down a 28-month term of imprisonment and is requiring Watson to pay the balance of $399,837 in restitution to investors previously ordered. The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers