Feds indict: NLR corruption UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feds indict: NLR corruption UPDATE

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 5:13 PM

News from the U.S. attorney's office of a major indictment with a tantalizing indication of more to come in the area of public corruption in North Little Rock.

George Wylie Thompson, 64, of Cabot, has been indicted for possession, as a felon, of a huge arsenal of firearms, silencers and ammunition; for running a bookmaking operation; for drug dealing; for conspiring to commit marriage fraud, and for conspiring to commit wire fraud by working with an unnamed North Little Rock alderman on an alleged kickback scheme on city concrete and landscaping projects.

Thompson was arrested in Bangkok and made an initial court appearance in Los Angeles last week. The indictment was returned in October and kept sealed until his arrest.

The indictment, after a lengthy description of conversations between an unnamed city vendor and the alderman, stops short of saying whether any deals actually were completed. Direct quotes in these conversations suggest that somebody was wearing a wire. The indictment said the vendor and the alderman were working on the schemes with Thompson to pay off debts they owed him.

From U.S. Attorney Jane Duke's news release:

"Not only do illegal gambling operations threaten legitimate business, they can also open the door to involvement in other crimes," remarked Special Agent in Charge Thomas J.Browne. "The allegations of public corruption contained in this indictment are among the most serious, and fall within the FBI's number one criminal investigative priority."

Duke echoed Browne’s sentiments and noted that, “ the investigation is on-going and further charges are anticipated in connection with the public corruption piece of the investigation.”

She refused to elaborate on the indictment or provide more information except to say through a spokesman, "Stay tuned."

I'm going to give you the official documents and then get on the phone to try to piece together more.

Duke's news release is here.

Here's the main indictment against Thompson, which includes details of the major charges.

Here's a separate cocaine indictment.

UPDATE: Ward Three Alderman Cary Gaines confirms in a phone call to me that he's the person of interest in the count of the indictment alleging a kickback scheme with a developer and an alderman. He said he has an attorney, Chuck Banks, and he doesn't know if he'll be indicted. He said he'd like to talk further, but he's fearful of comments being taken out of context by federal investigators. He said no illicit deals alleged in the indictment took place. He declined for the time being to discuss his relationship with Thompson, though he said he'd be happy to in the future. He said he planned to "go through the system" and hoped for a good outcome. He commented: "It's so scary."

Note: The conspiracy to commit wire fraud count says Thompson dealt with a long-term North Little Rock alderman from Ward 3, first elected in 1992, who was "re-elected" in 2007. Ward 3 Alderman Sam Baggett was first elected in 2008. The other Ward 3 alderman, Cary Gaines, was not "re-elected" in 2007. His last election was 2006. So I draw no conclusions from this indictment narrative. I did leave messages with Gaines on his home and cell phone to ask him if he could clarify.

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