Former deputy director of state agency pleads guilty to conspiracy, bribery

A Marion man plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and bribery in relation to programs that received federal funding.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Steven B. Jones, 49, of Marion plead guilty in federal court. Jones if a former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. According to the release, Jones "pleaded guilty today for providing official assistance in exchange for bribes from the owner of two mental health companies."

According to the plea agreement, 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."

Jones served as deputy director of the multi-billion dollar agency from 2007 to 2013. He admitted to providing official assistance in return for monetary bribes, according to the release.

"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," according to the release.

Jones will be sentenced on April 2, 2015. He faces a maximum of five years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. He faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine for bribery in relation to federal program fraud.

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