AUGUST 16, 2005 - Posted at 12:39 p.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal appeals court today rejected ex-Governor Jim Guy Tucker's effort to withdraw a guilty plea in a tax case involving the sale of a cable television franchise, saying Tucker admitted hiding the true value of the sale to impede the IRS.
Tucker argued that federal prosecutors had charged him under the wrong statute and that he should be entitled to withdraw his guilty plea.
The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis said a revision in federal law affected only how much Tucker owed in restitution, not the underlying fact that Tucker admitted breaking the law in an effort to avoid income taxes.
Tucker and a business partner told the Plantation Cable System in 1988 and, after Tucker's guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner ordered the ex-governor to pay $1 million in restitution.
Tucker appealed, saying the Internal Revenue Service would have used an updated version of its code to determine his tax liability, and after a hearing, Reasoner reduced the amount to less than $63,000.
With the new restitution ruling, Tucker argued that the former version of the IRS code didn't apply in his case and that Whitewater prosecutors charged him under the wrong law. But the appeals court disagreed.