Friday, August 28, 2009

Ex-CIA Spy's Son Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charges

The Miami Herald is reporting that the son of an ex-CIA spy has agreed to testify against his father as part of a plea agreement that may prevent the son serving any prison time for taking money from Russian agents. Nathaniel Nicholson pleaded guilty this week to engaging in a conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Jim Nicholson was the highest-ranking CIA official ever convicted of espionage when he pleaded guilty in 1997 to a conspiracy charge that sent him to prison for more than 23 years. He had been accused of selling information to the Russians about the CIA agents he trained and passing along other secrets.

Both Nicholsons were indicted in January on new charges of conspiracy, money laundering and acting as an agent of a foreign government. Jim Nicholson was accused of sending his son back to his Russian handlers from 2006 to 2008 to squeeze more money out of them.

Under the plea agreement, the 25-year-old Nicholson admitted taking money from the Russians and promised to testify, if required, against his father in the new case. In return, federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence that could result only in probation.

During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, Nathaniel Nicholson admitted traveling to San Francisco, Mexico City, Lima, Peru and Nicosia, Cyprus, to meet with agents of the Russian Federation on behalf of his father.

The younger Nicholson took about $45,000 in payments from the Russian agents, who wanted to determine how much U.S. agencies had learned about their operations during the investigation of the elder Nicholson. He said he gave most of the money to family members, at his father's direction.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kent Robinson said the guilty plea showed the younger Nicholson's "willingness to accept responsibility for his actions."

Nate Nicholson was just 12 years old when his father was sentenced in June 1997, but had visited him regularly at the federal prison in Sheridan, a small town in the farmland southwest of Portland.

Sentencing was set for January 25 for the younger Nicholson. A trial for his father, an Oregon native, is not expected until at least May.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Davis Pleads Guilty in Stanford Bank Case

James Davis, former CFO of Stanford Bank, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection with the meltdown of the bank. Davis faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, though his sentence will likely be significantly impacted by his cooperation with the government in the case against Allen Stanford.

Here is a portion of a story of the plea from the Houston Chronicle.

On the day his one-time boss was hospitalized, former Stanford Financial Group executive James Davis pleaded guilty today to three fraud and conspiracy counts for his role in an alleged $7 billion fraud.

R. Allen Stanford, set to appear in court on a different matter, did not make the trip to the Houston federal courthouse from a Conroe jail cell. U.S. District Judge David Hittner said Stanford was found to have an irregular heartbeat and extremely high blood pressure around 5:30 a.m. and was taken to a Conroe hospital for evaluation.

Davis' plea agreement has been expected since his attorney said Davis has been cooperating with investigators since March. The sentencing of Stanford's former chief financial officer will come at another date, but legal experts have speculated he may face many years behind bars given the number of charges. Hittner accepted the plea, which also calls for Davis to forfeit about $1 billion, and set a Nov. 20 sentencing date. Victims of the Stanford Financial Group's collapse last year will get a chance to
address Davis at that hearing. After today's hearing, Davis was
contrite in a brief statement to reporters.

"I apologize and take responsibility for my actions," he said. His attorney said Davis is currently earning about $10 an hour by laboring on a family farm in Michigan.