Friday, October 3, 2014

Steven B. Jones, former legislator and DHS official, pleads in federal bribery case

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 12:16 AM

PLEADS TO BRIBERY: Steve B. Jones, former legislator.
  • PLEADS TO BRIBERY: Steve B. Jones, former legislator.
I'm too far removed by time and distance to add elaboration, but I noted this significant release from the U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock — guilty plea by  Steven B. Jones of Marion, a former Human Services Department official and former legislator, on a federal bribery charge:

A former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS), a multi-billion dollar state agency, pleaded guilty today for providing official assistance in exchange for bribes from the owner of two mental health companies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and First Assistant United States Attorney Patrick C. Harris of the Eastern District of Arkansas made the announcement.

Steven B. Jones, 49, of Marion, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with conspiracy and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 2, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson of the Eastern District of Arkansas.

According to his plea agreement, Jones served as deputy director of ADHS from approximately April 2007 until July 2013. While serving in that capacity, Jones solicited and accepted multiple cash payments and other things of value from the owner of two businesses that provided inpatient and outpatient mental health services to juveniles. This individual provided the cash payments and other things of value to Jones through the use of two intermediaries, a local pastor and a former county probation officer and city councilman.

As part of his plea, Jones admitted that in return for the bribes, he provided official assistance, including providing internal ADHS information about the individual’s businesses. Jones further admitted that he and other members of the conspiracy concealed their dealings by, among other things, holding meetings at restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee, or rural Arkansas, where they would not be easily recognized; funneling the cash payments through the pastor’s church; providing the bribe payments in cash so that the transactions would not be easily traceable; and speaking in code during telephone conversations.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia S. Harris and Angela S. Jegley of the Eastern District of Arkansas. 

We'll be interested, of course, in who was paying the bribes to get patients in the government-subsidized treatment programs. Jones, in addition to being a former Democratic legislator, was a state appointee to the Delta Regional Authority. He'd worked after leaving DHS, according to this resume, at a development bank and in his own government consulting firm. He resigned from the Southern Development Bancorp about two weeks ago, the AP reported.

I can add that the business of treating juveniles for mental health reasons is enormous and the millions spent (primarily in federal dollars) have been a cause of recurring tension, intense lobbying and occasional investigations. Some of the Times' previous work in this field has touched on reports that bad actors in the field used workers in local courts to steer business. In years past, Arkansas spent a disproportionate amount on more expensive residential treatment, too, as compared with much larger states. But it's uncertain whether this is a factor in the Jones case.

UPDATE:

Here's the statement from DHS:

The Department of Human Services takes seriously the trust the public places in this agency. So we were extremely disappointed to learn today that a former senior official illegally shared sensitive information. DHS fully cooperated with the FBI during the investigation, but the agency was unaware of the specific allegations until today. We will continue to hold our employees to the highest ethical standards and will review the details of this situation to determine if we need to take additional action.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • UPDATE: Fourth death confirmed in Polk County; suspect identified

    UPDATE: The body of Reilly Scarborough has been found, bringing to four the number of family homicides in Polk County. The nine-year-old was found in woods west of Hatfield. A suspect is in custody.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • The Saturday open line

    An open line for a Saturday not yet as rainy as predicted, at least everywhere.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • Baker Kurrus: Opposes Little Rock School District tax proposal

    Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • FOI lawsuit filed for State Police firing records on ABC enforcement boss Boyce Hamlet

    Russell Racop has filed, as promised, his lawsuit over the State Police's refusal — under guidance from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — to release records that provide information that led to the firing of current Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.
    • Sep 9, 2015
  • Medical marijuana backers: Health Department opposition 'disingenuous' and 'cruel'

    Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group behind the first medical marijuana initiative to qualify for the ballot, has responded sharply to yesterday's statement by the Arkansas Health Department that it opposes legal medical use of marijuana.
    • Jul 13, 2016
  • State Police issues statement on Jason Rapert 'threats'

    The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
    • Sep 15, 2015

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation