Lord's Ranch owner sentenced in bribery scheme

Published: Oct. 27, 2016 at 6:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2016 at 6:08 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A judge sentenced Theodore E. Suhl, 50, of Warm Springs to 84 months in prison Thursday for his part in a scheme to bribe a former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The judge also sentenced Suhl, who owned two mental health companies in Arkansas, including the Lord's Ranch later renamed Trinity Behavioral Health, to pay a $200,000 fine.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said Suhl bribed Steven B. Jones by using intermediaries Phillip W. Carter and a local pastor.

Beginning in April 2007, Caldwell said, the men periodically met at restaurants in Memphis or rural Arkansas. During those meetings, Suhl requested assistance for his companies from Jones in his capacity as deputy director of ADHS.

Jones agreed to perform official acts that would benefit Suhl and his businesses. In exchange, Suhl funneled cash to Jones in a manner that would not be easily traceable.

"Putting Jones on Suhl's illicit payroll paved the way for more than $1.5 million in profits for Suhl's juvenile mental health counseling business," Caldwell said.

Suhl is expected to report to the Arkansas Department of Correction on Jan. 3, 2017.

Suhl was previously convicted of two counts of honest services fraud, one count of federal funds bribery, and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery.

Jones pleaded guilty to federal funds bribery and conspiracy for his involvement in the scheme. He received a 30-months prison sentence.

Carter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery and honest services wire fraud, receiving 24 months in prison.

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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