A D.C. federal judge has denied the request of a Florida man charged in a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme to move proceedings from U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia – where he was indicted – to a federal court in his home state.
Thomas Anderson Bowdoin Jr. was indicted by a federal grand jury in November on multiple counts of wire and securities fraud. Bowdoin is accused of generating millions of dollars by promising consumers high rates of return for investing in his company’s advertising ventures; prosecutors allege Bowdoin was running a Ponzi scheme and personally made off with more than $1 million.
Bowdoin requested the trial be moved to Florida, arguing that most of his witnesses and his attorneys were in Florida and that it would be an unfair burden to have to fly them all back and forth to Washington. He also argued that since he is 77 years old and his wife is sick, the trial would strain his relationship and potentially put his health and his wife’s health in greater jeopardy.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer, in an opinion [.pdf] issued yesterday, wrote that Bowdoin’s vague claims that the distance would pose a major inconvenience were not enough to outweigh the court’s preference that defendants be tried in the district where they are indicted. She also recounted the case’s lengthy, “tortured history” to show that Bowdoin had no problem litigating previous matters in Washington.
Addressing Bowdoin’s argument that the distance also puts him at a disadvantage because his attorneys are based in Florida, Collyer countered that moving the trial to Florida would similarly inconvenience prosecutors.
“Trial in Florida, however, would place an additional burden on the Government, whose counsel are located here in the District of Columbia. Given the funding emergency facing the Government, the Court declines at this time to treat it as an unlimited source of monies,” she wrote.
Collyer dismissed Bowdoin’s pleas that he needed to be close to home due to his age and his wife’s health problems. Noting that Bowdoin continued to travel around the country promoting his company after turning 70, Collyer wrote, “The inevitable fact that an elderly person accused of a crime becomes older before trial does not provide a basis to transfer his trial closer to his home.” Collyer said that while she sympathizes with any ailments faced by Bowdoin’s wife, they did not warrant moving the trial.
Bowdoin’s attorney, Charles Murray, a solo practitioner in Naples, Fla., could not immediately be reached for comment. Bowdoin still has a motion to dismiss pending before Collyer.
Update: Collyer denied Bowdoin's motion to dismiss on March 18.