U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson on Tuesday denied a request to give federal prosecutors more time to investigate whether he has a conflict in the criminal tax case against longtime nightclub operator Steve Davidovici.
On Monday, Justice Department lawyers Christopher Maietta and Joseph Rillotta filed a motion seeking about six more weeks to look into whether the judge should remove himself from the case because of possible connections between his son, Brian, and Davidovici.
The prosecutors sought to continue a July 9 hearing until Aug. 20 so the “government can further investigate” the possible conflict. Dawson sentenced Davidovici to three years of probation and eight months of home confinement last week for filing a false tax return in a
$7 million tip-concealing scheme on the Strip.
In his two-page order Tuesday, Dawson said the government failed to offer any legal grounds to support a delay in the hearing.
And that, he said, amounted to a “concession” on the part of prosecutors that they are “unaware of any grounds for disqualification.”
Davidovici’s lawyer, David Chesnoff, had opposed the continuance, accusing the Justice Department lawyers of trying to “prolong” the sentencing process because they were unhappy with the result.
Chesnoff said Tuesday that he was pleased with Dawson’s decision.
“As I said before, the sentence in this case was eminently fair and consistent with recognized federal law,” Chesnoff said. “Mr. Davidovici accepted responsibility and wants to begin to serve his sentence and have closure in this matter.”
Prosecutors had urged Dawson last week to sentence Davidovici to
18 months in prison for his role in overseeing the tip scheme at Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace. Davidovici, 48, co-owned the club when the scheme took place between 2005 and 2007.
Dawson ended up siding with Chesnoff, saying he was concerned that Davidovici would not get the care he needed in prison for his eye condition, acute optic neuropathy, which threatens to leave him legally blind.
In his order Tuesday, Dawson was critical of the government’s motive in wanting to keep alive questions about a conflict in the case.
“The request for further delay in entry of judgment simply for the purpose of permitting further investigation of the possibility of a conflict, without more, is simply an end run around the earlier rulings of the court denying the government’s request to wait a few months to see if the defendant loses the sight in his remaining eye,” Dawson wrote.
Prosecutors have the option of appealing the sentence to a higher court, Dawson said.
A Justice Department representative in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
One day after last week’s sentencing, Dawson called an emergency hearing to disclose that the media had been asking questions about ties between Davidovici and Brian Dawson, 38.
The judge put a temporary hold on the sentence at the hearing after questions arose that his son might have worked as a bartender at one of the nightclubs associated with Davidovici.
Dawson said from the bench that he didn’t know where his son worked, and he insisted that he did not believe there were grounds to take himself off the case.
Word circulated within the media last week that Brian Dawson worked as a bartender at Gallery Nightclub, where Davidovici was a consultant.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Dawson’s son had obtained a work card in May 2011 as a bartender at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens. Until recently, Davidovici was a co-owner at Chateau, which is at Paris Las Vegas.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.