Suhl pleads not guilty in bribery case, trial date set for Jan. 19

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 104 views 

Ted Suhl, indicted earlier this month in connection to a bribery and public corruption case that involved several government officials, was arraigned Friday before a federal magistrate.

Suhl, 50, of Warm Springs pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, three counts of honest services fraud, one count federal funds bribery and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery. Suhl was indicted Dec. 2 by a federal grand jury in Little Rock, federal prosecutors said earlier this month.

Suhl, who owns two Arkansas mental health companies that provide inpatient and outpatient mental health services to juveniles, appeared before Magistrate Joe Volpe. Volpe set a Jan. 19 hearing/trial date for Suhl during the hearing.

Prosecutors have alleged that Suhl (then known as Person C), former Arkansas Department of Human Services deputy director Steve Jones, former West Memphis City Council member Phillip Carter and a fourth person, known as “Person A” were involved in a nearly four-year long scheme ending in Nov. 2011. Prosecutors said Suhl, Jones and Carter would meet at restaurants in Memphis and Arkansas for Suhl to ask for Jones’ help.

“At the meetings, they discussed the business interests of Person C (Suhl), Company A and Company B (Suhl’s companies), and Jones agreed to take official acts to benefit Person C, Company A and Company B, including providing internal ADHS information to Person C,” prosecutors said earlier this year. “Prior to or during the meetings. … Person C would provide Carter with checks from companies associated with Person C that were made payable to Person A’s church. After the restaurant meetings, Carter would provide the checks to Person A, who typically deposited the checks or caused the checks to be deposited into church-related checking accounts (including an account associated with the church’s child development center) and received cash in return – either directly from the church related accounts or after transferring the money from the church-related accounts to a personal checking account.”

“Person A” would then give Carter all or part of the money; and Carter would give the money to Jones, officials have said. Authorities have not disclosed the identity of “Person A” but have provided a few clues in court filings.

“Person A was a resident of Crittenden County and was the Pastor and Superintendent of a church located in West Memphis,” according to Suhl’s indictment.

Jones, who pleaded guilty in Oct. 2014 to two counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy, will be sentenced Jan. 8. Carter, who pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Arkansas Department of Human Services, is set to be sentenced Feb. 18 in Little Rock.