A former Arkansas state senator and a college president have been charged in a kickback scheme in which thousands of dollars in bribes were paid to lawmakers who directed state funds to two non-profit groups, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.
The former Arkansas State Senator Jonathan Woods and two other persons have been charged with bribery and mail fraud, the US Department of Justice said in a press release on Friday.
“Woods, 39, of Springdale, Arkansas, was charged with 11 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of honest services mail fraud and one count of money laundering,” the release stated.
Two other defendants — college president Oren Paris and consultant Randel Shelton — were each indicted on nine counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of honest services mail fraud, the release added.
According to the indictment, the three men created a bribery scheme involving tens of thousands of dollars in illicit funds payed out to the senator and another legislator in exchange for directing nearly $600,000 in federal money to two non-profit organizations.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Woods initially sent $200,000 of General Improvements Fund money to the Ecclesia College run by Paris and later approved another $200,000 to the same entity, all in exchange for kickbacks.
Paris also bribed Woods, the indictment said, by hiring the senator’s friend to an administrative position at the college, the release noted.