Former DHS official sentenced in bribery scheme - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

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Former DHS official sentenced in bribery scheme

(Source: AP Graphics Bank) (Source: AP Graphics Bank)
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -

A former deputy director for the Arkansas Department of Human Services and a former probation officer were sentenced Thursday for their participation in a bribery scheme.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Steven B. Jones, 51, of Marion to 30 months in the Bureau of Prisons.

Jones, who once worked for ADHS, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and honest services wire fraud and for federal funds bribery.

He must also serve one year of supervised release and pay a $6,000 fine.

The judge also sentenced his co-conspirator, 47-year-old Phillip W. Carter, also of Marion, to 24 months in prison and two years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and honest services wire fraud.

According to plea agreements, Carter and a pastor served as intermediaries in a bribery scheme involving Jones and Theodore Suhl of Randolph County, who owned two businesses providing inpatient and outpatient mental health services to juveniles.

A news release from U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer stated Jones admitted that, beginning in April 2007 and while serving as ADHS deputy director, he solicited and accepted multiple cash payments and other items of value from Suhl.

In return, Jones reportedly admitted he agreed to perform official acts that benefited Suhl and his businesses.

Jones and Carter both admitted, as part of their plea agreements, that they and other members of the conspiracy met at restaurants in Memphis and rural Arkansas so they would not be easily recognized. The money, according to Thyer’s office, was funneled through a church.

On Dec. 2, 2015, Suhl was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, three counts of honest services fraud, one count federal funds bribery and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery.

He is awaiting trial.

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