The accountant for a former state senator who pleaded guilty to mail fraud earlier this year needs more time to determine who has been paid back in the aftermath of the case, the former state senator’s attorney said in a court filing Monday.
Attorney Bill Stanley of Jonesboro, who represents former state Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, asked for a continuance in the case until the work is done. The case is before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, with the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Bookout, who once served as President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, pleaded guilty March 11 to one count of mail fraud in the case.
Bookout is still scheduled to be sentenced Monday (Nov. 23) in federal court at Little Rock on the mail fraud charge. According to the motion, Stanley is asking for a delay in sentencing.
“Defendant (Bookout) used a formula agreed to by state investigators to refund certain donors an amount equivalent to $.06 on a dollar from the 2012 campaign cycle. That on November 12 and again on November 13, 2015, the government forwarded a breakdown of the donors for not only the 2012 election cycle but also the 2010 election cycle with a formula outlining how much restitution each individual donor was owed,” Stanley wrote in the motion.
“That the formula used by the FBI and the formula agreed by Defendant’s personal account, while similar, are not identical. That Defendant needs additional time to meet with his accountant, Ronnie Richardson, who initially refunded monies from the 2012 campaign cycle, to identify which donors have been reimbursed in fall, over reimbursed or under reimbursed from said cycle so Defendant can present that information to the Court at his sentencing.”
BACKGROUND OF CASE
The Bookout investigation was first conducted in 2013 by the Arkansas Ethics Commission after a complaint was filed by Bob Hester of Jonesboro. The commission released an order in Aug. 2013 that noted Bookout had used $53,305.07 in campaign donations for personal use, did not keep sufficient records of expenses during the 2012 election and failed to itemize 93 different expenditures, totaling $39,646.94.
After the ethics commission investigation, state and federal law enforcement began looking into the matter. The information found during the investigation was wide-ranging, federal officials said earlier this year.
“According to the information filed today, Bookout deposited campaign contributions for his 2010 and 2012 elections into two bank accounts. Between May 2009 and December 2012, campaign donations totaling $126,500 were deposited into one of those accounts. Between March 2012 and July 2013, campaign donations totaling $62,750 were deposited into the second account. The information alleges that between May 2009 and July 2013, Bookout unlawfully made payments totaling $150,048.12 from those accounts for personal items and expenses, including clothing for Bookout and family members, a sound system installed in Bookout’s home, golf clubs, country club pro shop expenses, sporting goods, liquor, household furnishing, tanning sessions, manicures, and travel expenses unrelated to his re-election campaigns,” the statement from the United States Attorney’s office said in March.
“Additionally, the information alleges that in filing false CCE reports, Bookout represented to the Secretary of State’s Office, the public, and his contributors that all of the claimed expenditures were lawful and related to his campaigns, when in fact they were not. The mail fraud count charged relates to Bookout’s mailing of a fraudulent CCE report to the Secretary of State’s Office on about December 28, 2012.”
Stanley said in March that Bookout is cooperating with investigators in the case.