Convicted Former Vegas Land Broker Gets Support Before Sentencing

By: Kimberly Chandler Email
By: Kimberly Chandler Email

A Nevada congresswoman and the federal public defender in Las Vegas are among those seeking leniency for a 73-year-old land broker facing prison for bribing elected officials.

"I write this letter on behalf of Mr. Don Davidson, who I have known for many years," Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt, who is due to sentence Donald
Davidson on Thursday. "His actions were wrong, but he is not a bad person."

A letter from Federal Public Defender Franny Forsman, writing as a private citizen and former member of the Las Vegas Housing Authority Board, was one of 41 received by the court in support of Davidson. Forsman commended Davidson for his work on the board trying to provide housing for the poor.

Other supporters cited Davidson's age, his family ties and charitable work. Davidson's attorney is asking the judge to sentence Davidson to probation.

Federal prosecutors want Hunt to increase Davidson's possible sentence from 27 months recommended by federal officials to at least five years and three months. They allege Davidson's bribes were part of a pattern of behavior, that he perjured himself on the witness stand, and that he offered bribes to multiple officials.

A jury in July found Davidson guilty of one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five charges of wire fraud for attempting to bribe then-Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald in 2002.

The jury deadlocked on 18 other allegations stemming from allegations Davidson tried to bribe former Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny.

Kenny is now serving prison time for her conviction with three other former commissioners and a former strip club owner in the "G-Sting" political corruption scandal. She testified at Davidson's trial that Davidson paid her $3,000 a month after she voted in favor of a neighborhood casino, and that he delivered $200,000 to her after she pushed through a zone change allowing a pharmacy to be built.

Prosecutors allege Davidson lied on the stand when he denied Kenny's claims.

The government contends Davidson paid or attempted to pay a total of $380,000. Davidson's lawyer, Clark Derrick, puts the figure at $67,000 from counts on which Davidson was convicted.

The guilty verdicts came after jurors heard wiretaps of telephone calls referring to a lunch meeting between Davidson and McDonald, who was not charged in the case.

"The way he came across; not the way I operate," McDonald later told former Clark County commissioner-turned-lobbyist Lance Malone. Malone also was convicted in the G-Sting case.

"I approached him the same way I approached you," Davidson told Malone during a separate call that prosecutors say referred to Davidson's effort to spend $50,000. "I have five dimes to spread around."

The case against Davidson also involved his son, former lawyer Lawrence Davidson. The younger Davidson has been a fugitive since he failed to appear in October 2006 for trial in a separate federal case.

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