A federal grand jury in Fayetteville has indicted a former Arkansas state senator who left office this year. It’s the latest development in a kickback scheme that has already brought down one other former legislator.
According to documents filed in US District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, the grand jury indicted Woods along with the president of Ecclesia College, Oren Paris III and Randell Shelton, who runs a consulting company. The three were indicted on 12 counts of wire and mail services fraud. Woods’ charges also include one count of engaging in money laundering. The Springdale Republican had been implicated in a bribery plea earlier this year from former State Rep. Micah Neal.
Neal, also a Republican from Springdale, pleaded guilty to accepting $38,000 dollars in kickback money after steering about $600,000 in State General Improvement Funds to two non-profits. One of them was believed to be Ecclesia College, a private institution based in Springdale. Neal’s plea said a state senator, at the time widely believed to be Woods, helped steer the funds. Neal still faces sentencing.
Woods served in the Arkansas Senate from 2013 to 2017. Before that he served in the Arkansas House of Representatives, having been first elected to a seat in 2006. Neal served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017.