A batch of sealed indictments have fueled the political speculation mill | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A batch of sealed indictments have fueled the political speculation mill

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 5:05 PM

sealed_list.jpg
What's it all about?

Shown here are images of some recent criminal docket listings in Arkansas federal courts. At right are listings from the Western District between Nov. 13 and Nov. 20. Below are listings from the Eastern District between Oct. 30 and Nov. 20. Could they be related to speculation that further indictments are expected in the public corruption investigation in which one state representative, Micah Neal, has pleaded guilty and another, former Sen. Jon Woods, goes on trial in Fayetteville next week? A number of filings in that case remain under seal and attorneys in that case have said they expect other indictments.

The U.S. attorney's office has not responded to my request for a comment, but I don't expect one. Indictments are often filed under seal and released when defendants are arrested and arraigned. But the burst of activity seems atypical. For the week ending today, for example, a grand total of two criminal cases (both identified) have been filed in all federal courts in the state.

A veteran criminal lawyer agrees the activity is striking. He notes, too, the gap in case numbers, with a batch dating to early in the year and some more recent. Maybe it's a bunch of bootlegging and welfare fraud cases. Or maybe it's something more exciting. In time, all will be revealed.

A particularly tasty bit of speculation deals with legislation written where only certain businesses would qualify for the lucrative state work (no, not the recent education consulting boondoggle engineered by a gubernatorial staff member.)

You might remember there's been a great deal of speculation about sealed cases filed around the time of Paul Manafort's indictment in Washington, D.C. in the Russian influence peddling case. I mention that only because we are still awaiting further details there, too. Anybody you know been acting nervous lately?

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