Former Arkansas Lobbyist Pleads Guilty In Bribery Scheme Involving Legislators

Jun 7, 2018

Rusty Cranford

An ex-lobbyist has pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe Arkansas lawmakers and embezzle from a Missouri-based nonprofit where he worked.

Rusty Cranford of Rogers, Arkansas, admitted paying bribes to former state Sen. Jon Woods, former state Rep. Henry Wilkins IV and a legislator identified only as "Arkansas Senator A." Outside his lobbying work, Cranford oversaw Springfield, Missouri-based Preferred Family Healthcare's operations in Arkansas.

Woods has been convicted and Wilkins has pleaded guilty. Both await sentencing. A plea agreement unveiled Thursday described "Senator A" as the sponsor of two bills that legislative records attribute solely to Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, a nephew of Arkansas' governor.

The senator's lawyer, Tim Dudley, said he had reviewed the plea agreement and said he was confident Hutchinson did nothing illegal or unethical.