Government: More indictments possible in legislative kickback case | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Government: More indictments possible in legislative kickback case

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 11:31 AM

click to enlarge TRIAL DELAYED: Jon Woods.
  • TRIAL DELAYED: Jon Woods.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that federal Judge Timothy Brooks of Fayetteville has delayed the bribery trial of former Sen. Jon Woods  "in part because the prosecutor said the investigation is continuing and further indictments are expected."

Former Rep. Micah Neal has pleaded guilty. Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III and Woods' friend Randell Shelton Jr. have also been indicted. The case alleges state surplus money was steered to the college and Neal and Woods got kickbacks in return.

Dec. 4 is the new trial date. Woods, Paris and Shelton are to be tried together.

Recently in the case, the judge allowed the government to file a bill of particulars under seal because the specifics would identify other people and businesses.

Here, the United States asserts the compelling interest for the need to protect the reputation and privacy interests of those referenced in the Superseding Indictment outweighs public disclosure inasmuch as publication of the sealed names would “communicate to the general public that the named individuals [or entities] . . . are guilty, or may be guilty, of a felony involving breaches of the public trust. Public disclosure could lead to conjecture and speculation regarding any individual’s and entities' criminal wrongdoing and cause them irreparable harm. 
Previous reporting in the case has pointed toward at least one lobbyist/nonprofit executive and an agency he worked for as having been intertwined with Woods' and Neal's efforts to control spending of General Improvement Fund money. But the mention of "public trust" sounds a bit like a reference to an elected official, doesn't it?

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