Texas Music Fest Promoter Sentenced

James Watson Jr., who promoted the inaugural and only Texas Music Festival in Houston Sept. 2008, was convicted March 14 of fraud and has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Watson’s festival was part of a scheme to bilk investors out of at least $2.5 million, according to prosecutors. The three-day festival had two unassuming days, followed by a canceled final day that was to include Los Lobos. The event was allegedly canceled because organizers learned of a storm that was heading toward the area.

Watson has been under supervised release after serving a prison term “for engaging in essentially the same scam related to the Sacramento Jazz Festival in California,” prosecutors told the Houston Press.

Watson kited a $400,000 check to Bank of America in connection to the Texas festival in Eleanor Tinsley Park, according to prosecutors.

“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 told the newspaper.

“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.”

Watson siphoned off the funds to bankroll an “extravagant lifestyle,” according to prosecutors, and disappeared from the final day of the festival without paying artists, vendors or police officers working the event.

Watson received the maximum sentence plus three years of supervised release.