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Former Arkansas senator sentenced to 18 months for fraud

June 18, 2018

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas state senator who admitted obtaining a loan under false pretenses and fraudulently obtaining state grants was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $84,000 in restitution.

Jake Files, 46, had represented Fort Smith in the state Senate since 2011 and was the chairman of its Revenue and Taxation Committee. He resigned shortly after pleading guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in January.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III said Files must report to prison by Aug. 2. After completing his prison term, Files will be on supervised release for three years.

Files is among several Arkansas lawmakers to face legal troubles this year.

Former Rep. Micah Neal pleaded guilty and former state Sen. Jon Woods was convicted in what prosecutors described as a kickback scheme involving state grants; former state Sen. Henry “Hank” Wilkins admitted taking bribes for votes; and former state Rep. Eddie Cooper admitted conspiring to embezzle money from a Missouri charity.

A lobbyist who pleaded guilty in federal court this month said he also paid bribes to a lawmaker identified in court documents as “Arkansas Senator A.” The senator’s lawyer has acknowledged his client, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, is “Senator A” but said the senator has done nothing illegal or unethical.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday he was saddened by Files’ case.

“It is always a sad day when a public official violates the public trust,” Hutchinson said. “I have known Jake most of his life, and when he was charged, he resigned and accepted responsibility. ... It is up to all of us in public service to do right and restore public confidence.”

Prosecutors said Files schemed to fraudulently obtain a $56,700 loan and $46,500 in state funds. He acknowledged preparing and submitting fraudulent bids to obtain state general improvement funds designated for a Fort Smith sports complex.

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