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Fugitive ex-attorney involved in corruption case in custody

Lawrence Davidson, a disbarred attorney who failed to show up for his money laundering trial five years ago and fled the country, is back in federal custody in Las Vegas.

Davidson, who also was charged in a sweeping political corruption probe that resulted in the convictions of four Clark County commissioners, voluntarily agreed to return to the country from Israel, according to federal court documents.

His return marks the final chapter in the high-profile corruption case that revolved around former strip club operator Michael Galardi, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.

FBI agents arrested Davidson in Newark, N.J., upon his arrival Sept. 8, and he was transported to Las Vegas, the court documents said. He is to appear at a detention hearing in federal court on Wednesday.

A bench warrant was issued for Davidson in October 2006 after he failed to show up for the money laundering trial.

Nearly two years later, while he was still at large, prosecutors secretly obtained a new indictment charging Davidson with failing to appear at the trial, obtaining a false passport and engaging in identity theft to flee the country.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Schiess, who is prosecuting Davidson, filed court papers Sept. 8 seeking to unseal the new case, as FBI agents took Davidson into custody in New Jersey.

U.S. Magistrate George Foley Jr. ordered the case unsealed the same day.

In his papers, Schiess said Davidson had “arranged to voluntarily return to the United States.”

Davidson, who once practiced personal injury and medical malpractice law, was accused in the money laundering case of negotiating settlements on behalf of his clients without their permission. The 2005 indictment alleged that he fraudulently negotiated 17 settlements totaling $936,300 during a 14-month period.

At the time of his disappearance, Davidson also was facing an upcoming trial on mail fraud and money laundering charges in the 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 County Commissioner Erin Kenny $200,000 after she helped push through the necessary 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 the case.

In July 2007, a federal jury was hung on the charges involving Kenny, but convicted Donald Davidson of trying to pay off former City Councilman Michael McDonald. Davidson later was sentenced to two years in prison.

His sentence followed prison terms handed out to Galardi, Kenny and three other former county commissioners: Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Dario Herrera and Lance Malone.

The younger Davidson had skipped town once before to avoid a federal charge of forging a judge’s signature on bankruptcy documents. But he returned in 2005 to plead guilty and surrender to authorities.

He later was sentenced to six months behind bars and placed on three years of supervision.

In September 2006, probation officials reported that Davidson had quit his job and moved out of his apartment in Arizona, court documents said.

Authorities said they lost track of him, as his first money laundering trial was to get under way in October.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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