James Watson Jr., the promoter who said his Texas Musical Festival would become an annual must-see on the Houston scene, will get five years in a federal prison for fraud.
Watson kited a $400,000 check to the Bank of America in connection with the first (and only) Festival, in Eleanor Tinsley Park in 2008, prosecutors say. "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," they said today.
"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," they said. "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."
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Los Lobos was scheduled to headline the 2008 event, but weather canceled most of the line-up.
Watson had been under supervised release after serving a prison term "for engaging in essentially the same scam related to the Sacramento Jazz Festival in California" while he was bilking investors for the Texas event. Oddly, he failed to inform potential investors of that.
He was sentenced today to the maximum he could have gotten, five years, followed by three years of supervised release.
So if someone comes up to you in 2018 looking to put on a killer musical festival, check his background thoroughly.