A 68-year-old businessman was sentenced Friday to more than 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to obtain nearly exclusive control over the city’s sheriff’s sales operation and using it for financial and political gain.
James Davis, a Temple University graduate who grew up in Chester, was also ordered to pay more than $870,000 to the IRS.
Before sentencing, Davis, clad in a dark blue suit, wept as he addressed U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone.
“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” he said between sobs. “I’m so sorry. ... I’m embarrassed."
Beetlestone told Davis that she found his crimes "insidious.”
“I love the city of Philadelphia,” Beetlestone said. “It is a world-class city. But cases like this are an illustration of how the culture of soft corruption can go to the very heart of our government.”
At the conclusion of a six-week trial last April, prosecutors contended that between 2002 and 2011, former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green, who was the longest-serving sheriff in city history, diverted public contracts to companies owned by Davis. After making millions of dollars on the deals, Davis would return the favor with monetary kickbacks, namely with illegal campaign donations.
Most notably, Davis allegedly supplied Green with a cash advance used to buy a retirement home in Florida.
Davis was also found guilty of five income-tax charges, including that he failed to file tax returns for three years and tried in a fourth year to write off the cost of his 42-foot pleasure boat as a business expense. He is due to report to federal prison April 15.