Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2014

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Federal judge takes senior status amid controversy

On the day U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson attained senior status, meaning he can reduce his caseload to one-quarter of what it was, get paid his regular salary and retain his staff, government prosecutors told Dawson they are not yet ready to opine on whether he is conflicted in the case of Steve Davidovici, the nightclub owner who pled guilty to a tax evasion scheme and was sentenced by Dawson to house arrest and probation, over objections from the government.

Dawson blamed the media for the controversy surrounding the sentence, and claimed two reporters invited him to commit an ethical violation by asking him questions about the case. I can't speak for the other reporter, but I can say I asked the following of the judge: Did he disclose that his son worked at clubs connected to Davidovici and was he aware his brother, attorney John E. Dawson, is the resident agent for Spendthrift Holdings, a company related to the Chateau Nightclub where Davidovici was a partner and Gallery Nightclub, where he was a consultant?

The judge also accused the media of misquoting him, claiming he did not say at an earlier hearing that he didn't know where his son worked. He said the record showed he said that he did not know the circumstances and specifics of his son's employment. I've ordered a transcript of the hearing.

Dawson said he wondered why the government attorneys needed extra time to investigate any potential conflict. The attorneys said they were unable to elaborate. The judge then invited them to make their case under seal. They declined.

Prosecutors restated their objections to Davidovici's sentence and to the judge's refusal to give them more time to investigate his potential conflict and suggested the judge officially enter the sentence so that the government may file its appeal. Davidovici's attorney David Chesnoff declined to comment on the record.

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