Best Criminal Conviction - 2010
Ex-Judge Phil Davis
In 1993, Phil Davis performed the judicial equivalent of a David Blaine extreme magic act. This year, all the card tricks in the world couldn't save him. Back in the early '90s, Davis, then a sitting Miami-Dade judge, had been swept up in a massive FBI sting called Operation Court Broom. The feds recorded Davis on tape accepting a $20,000 bribe from a lawyer. But Davis shimmied out of a conviction in '93 with a Meryl Streep-worthy performance on the stand. Weeping openly, Davis admitted to snorting cocaine in his chambers and stammered, "I could have been someone!" Jurors bought it, and he walked. But this year, Davis found himself back in court. And this time, karma proved to be a sweet, sweet bitch. Four years after walking on the corruption charges, Davis had started a nonprofit called Miami-Dade Residential College. The smooth-talking disbarred lawyer glad-handed his way into thousands of dollars in county grants for the program, which was supposed to help ex-cons learn real-world skills. Instead, it helped one con in particular — Davis himself — pad his wallet. Prosecutors showed that Davis and his partner inflated salaries, invented expenses, and stole more than $80,000 in taxpayer cash. On the stand in January, Davis broke down again. Tears flowed onto his prison jumpsuit. This time, there was no magic — only justice. Davis got 20 years. Good riddance.