Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Arkansas Democrat Sentenced for Taking Bribes

Former Democratic Arkansas State Senator and State Representative Henry (Hank) Wilkins IV was sentenced last week to prison for conspiring to accept more than $95,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing Arkansas state legislation and transactions.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Wilkins also steered approximately $245,000 in Arkansas General Improvement funds to his co-conspirators. Those co-conspirators included executives at a Missouri-based health care charity.

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As part of the conspiracy, Wilkins also admitted to devising a scheme to conceal the bribe payments as donations to St. James United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, where Wilkins also served as a pastor.

“According to court documents, Wilkins admitted as part of his plea that from 2010 to 2014, while serving in the Arkansas General Assembly, he accepted a series of bribes from lobbyists and non-profit organizations that were transmitted both in the form of cash and checks funneled from lobbying firms to a discretionary fund held in St. James’ name where Wilkins had access to the deposited funds,” according to the DOJ.

“In exchange for the cash and check bribes, Wilkins performed, and agreed to perform, official acts in his capacity as an Arkansas legislator including filing shell bills, sponsoring full bills, voting in favor of specific legislation, and steering approximately $245,000 in General Improvement funds to entities that funneled bribes to Wilkins through his church.”

U.S. District Court Judge Brian S. Miller sentenced Wilkins to 12 months and one day in prison.

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In addition to the federal prison sentence, Judge Miller ordered Wilkins to serve three years of supervised release and repay $123,000 in restitution. Wilkins must report to prison by March 7.

According to Ballotpedia, Wilkins, is a former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas State Senate.

Several of Wilkins’s co-conspirators, including former Arkansas Republican State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and two executives at the Missouri-based health care charity, pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Hutchinson is the nephew of former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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