Home Houston Press Releases 2011 Organizer of Texas Music Festival Sentenced to Federal Prison
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Organizer of Texas Music Festival Sentenced to Federal Prison

U.S. Attorney’s Office March 14, 2011
  • Southern District of Texas (713) 567-9000

HOUSTON—James Watson Jr., 55, has been sentenced to 60 months’ confinement in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced today. United States District Judge Gray Miller handed down the sentence on Friday, March 11.

Indicted in May 2010, Watson pleaded guilty to a superseding information on Nov. 30, 2010, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, admitting that he kited a $400,000 check to Bank of America that was part of a scheme where Watson bilked at least 18 investors, including a 92-year-old woman and her 72-year-old daughter, of at least $2.5 million by posing as a successful concert promoter.

The superseding information alleged Watson made fraudulent misrepresentations to investors he solicited for the “Texas Music Festival,” which was to be held in Houston between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, 2008. In reality, Watson had an extensive criminal history and was on federal supervised release after completing a prison term imposed following a 2002 conviction in the Eastern District of California for engaging in essentially the same scam related to the Sacramento Jazz Festival in California. Watson falsely told investors that a charity would be holding the ticket receipts for the concert and promised investors not only return of their investment, but a substantial profit. In actuality, Watson siphoned investor funds to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle, withdrew the $400,000 from Bank of America from the check kite, and disappeared on what was supposed to have been the third day of the Texas Music Festival without paying the artists, vendors, or police officers working the event, nor the investors.

The Texas Music Festival was scheduled to take place at Eleanor Tinsley Pavilion in Houston from Aug. 30, 2008 - Sept. 1, 2008.

Judge Miller sentenced Watson to the statutory maximum of 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. No fine was imposed because of his inability to pay, but Judge Miller ordered Watson to pay $391,690.50 restitution to Bank of America.

As a result of the Texas Music Festival scam, the district court in the Eastern District of California revoked Watson’s term of supervised release in December 2008 and handed down a 28-month term of imprisonment and is requiring Watson to pay the balance of $399,837 in restitution to investors previously ordered.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Belinda Beek prosecuted the case.

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