Former Arkansas State Representative, President of College, and Consultant Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

This week, a political consultant and two co-conspirators were sentenced following a May 5th conviction for a bribery scheme involving the redirection of state funds to non-profit entities in exchange for financial kickbacks.  Randell G. Shelton, Jr., a political consultant, was sentenced to 72 months in prison on 12 separate counts and reportedly led the effort. Shelton was also ordered to pay restitution of $660,698 and to forfeit an additional $664,000.

Also sentenced were two notable local figures, Oren Paris III and Michah Neal. Paris is the former president of Ecclesia College and will serve 36 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and will pay $621,500 in restitution. Neal is a former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives who served from 2013 to 2017. Neal faced the harshest sentence, facing 220 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution and to forfeit nearly $1.1 million.

The three men funneled money through the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District (NWAEDD) to two different non-profit organizations, including Ecclesia College, “in exchange for bribes,” according to the Department of Justice release announcing the action.

At least four other former lawmakers have also been convicted in the investigations following the scheme, including the former chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee, in a case that is still developing.

Posted in The Takedown

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