Ex-attorney Davidson in plea talks over criminal charges

Former attorney Lawrence Davidson, who returned to the country in September to face a slew of criminal charges, is in plea negotiations here with federal prosecutors, court documents show.

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hunt put off two Davidson trials — one tied to a high-profile political corruption case and the other involving allegations Davidson defrauded clients — to allow both sides to strike an agreement. The trials are now set for Feb. 27.

“Additional time is requested to allow for a resetting in this matter to accommodate the need to finalize the negotiations of the case,” Hunt wrote in orders filed in both cases on Thursday.

Davidson, 45, is the last defendant to face charges in the corruption case, which stemmed from efforts by former strip club operator Michael Galardi to wield hidden influence in city and county government. Four Clark County commissioners were convicted in the case.

Davidson, who once practiced personal injury and medical malpractice law, fled to Israel in September 2006, about a month before he 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. His trial in the political corruption case was to follow that case.

Davidson returned and surrendered to FBI agents in New Jersey on Sept. 8 and was brought back to Las Vegas.

In court here, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Schiess told a federal magistrate judge that Davidson had left the country for Tel Aviv with a phony passport. 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.

Both sides have filed court papers in that case seeking to put off the trial, which is before U.S. District Judge James Mahan. He has reset a hearing until Jan. 16 on whether Davidson violated the terms of his supervised release in another federal case when he fled to Israel. That case involved Davidson’s conviction for forging a federal judge’s signature on bankruptcy documents.

In the political corruption case, Davidson 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 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 ex-commissioners: Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Dario Herrera and Lance Malone.

Galardi, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors, also spent time in prison.


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