U.S. Attorney Balfe to resign, join law firm

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 1,151 views 

U.S. Attorney Robert Balfe, 40, will resign Jan. 4 and join Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, a Little Rock-based law firm with offices in Arkansas, Austin and New York.

Balfe has served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas since November 2004. He previously served as the elected state Prosecuting Attorney for Benton County from 2001 to 2004.

Balfe will lead the law firm’s new Government Investigations, Enforcement and White Collar Crime team from its office in Rogers. Balfe handled probably one of the highest profile white collar cases in Arkansas — if not the country — when he pursued prosecution of Tom Coughlin, a former No. 2 executive at Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Coughlin, a 28-year Wal-Mart employee who was recruited and hired by Sam Walton, pleaded guilty in January 2006 to felony wire fraud and tax evasion charges after embezzling cash, gift cards and merchandise from Wal-Mart. Losses were estimated at nearly $500,000.

Coughlin faced more than 28 years in prison and fines of $1.35 million. However, U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson ordered Coughlin to serve 27 months of home detention and 33 months of probation. Coughlin was fined $50,000 and ordered to make $411,218 in restitution.

Balfe, who protested that the punishment didn’t fit the crime, sought and was granted a re-sentencing. Dawson’s re-sentencing added community service to Coughlin’s home detention and fines.

Balfe resides in Bella Vista, Arkansas, with his wife, Jennifer, and two sons, Ryan, 9, and Luke, 5.

The United States Attorney’s Office has 18 attorneys and is responsible for conducting
all criminal and civil litigation in the district involving the United States government.  The
Western District of Arkansas includes 34 counties and the cities of Harrison, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, El Dorado and Texarkana.