Former attorney Lawrence Davidson pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday and decided against fighting the government's effort to keep him behind bars while he faces criminal charges, including several tied to his disappearance five years ago.
Davidson, 45, who fled the country before he was to stand trial on charges of defrauding his clients, voluntarily agreed to return from Israel last month.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Schiess told a federal magistrate judge Monday that Davidson left for Tel Aviv with a phony passport in September 2006, about a month before his trial was to start.
At the time, Davidson also was charged in a sweeping political corruption probe that resulted in the convictions of four Clark County commissioners.
Federal probation officers learned that Davidson abruptly quit his job in Arizona on Sept. 14, 2006, and moved out of his apartment there several days later without telling them, court documents show.
Schiess said prosecutors did not hear from Davidson until just before the Labor Day weekend, when his former attorney indicated Davidson wanted to return from Israel.
Prosecutors obtained an indictment against Davidson in 2008, charging him with failing to appear at the trial, obtaining a false passport and engaging in identity theft to flee the country.
FBI agents arrested the disbarred lawyer in Newark, N.J., upon his arrival Sept. 8, and he was transported to Las Vegas.
Neither Schiess nor Davidson's current attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Jason Carr, would explain Monday why Davidson wanted to return.
Carr told U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen that Davidson, who appeared in court in jail garb and chains, did not want to contest the government's move to keep him in custody.
Schiess said Davidson previously fled to Canada and checked into a drug rehabilitation center to avoid criminal charges in another federal case. Ultimately, Davidson returned to plead guilty in the 2004 case, which charged him with forging a federal judge's signature on bankruptcy documents.
Before fleeing the second time in 2006, Davidson, who once practiced personal injury and medical malpractice law, was to stand trial over allegations of negotiating settlements on behalf of his clients without their permission. He was accused of fraudulently negotiating 17 settlements totaling $936,300 during a 14-month period.
Davidson also was facing a trial in the high-profile political corruption case. He and his father, former developer Donald Davidson, were charged in a bribery scheme that involved getting a CVS Pharmacy placed in a neighborhood.
The elder Davidson was accused of paying former Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny $200,000 after she helped push through the zoning changes for the pharmacy. Lawrence Davidson was alleged to have created the bank account to conceal the illicit payments. Kenny cooperated with prosecutors.
In July 2007, a federal jury was deadlocked on the charges involving Kenny but convicted Donald Davidson of trying to pay off former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald. Davidson has since served a two-year prison term.
His sentence followed prison terms handed out to Kenny and three other former county commissioners: Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Dario Herrera and Lance Malone.
The corruption case revolved around former strip club operator Michael Galardi, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.
On Monday, Lawrence Davidson pleaded not guilty in all three outstanding criminal cases against him, and Leen set Nov. 14 trials before two judges in the three cases. But the trials are not likely to take place that soon. Davidson also has the option of negotiating a plea deal with the government.
He also faces an Oct. 13 hearing before U.S. District Judge James Mahan on whether he violated the terms of his supervised release in the bankruptcy forgery case. He had served his six-month prison term, but when he fled to Israel, he was in the middle of three years of supervised release.