Three Northeast Arkansas men accused in a federal bribery and corruption probe will appear before a federal judge next month for a hearing.
Ted Suhl of Warm Springs, Steven Jones of Marion and Phillip Carter of West Memphis are set to appear at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 18 at the federal courthouse in Little Rock in front of District Judge Billy Roy Wilson as part of the case.
The three men were arrested in connection with a nearly four-year long conspiracy involving the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Suhl pleaded not guilty on Dec. 18 to conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of federal funds bribery and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery.
Jones, who also served in the state House and was a deputy director at DHS, pleaded guilty in late 2014 to two counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy in the case; while Carter pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to one count of defrauding the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Prosecutors alleged last year that Suhl, Jones, Carter and a fourth person, who has not been named and has only been identified as “Person A” were involved in the scheme.
“Person A was a resident of Crittenden County and was the Pastor and Superintendent of a church located in West Memphis. Carter was a juvenile probation officer and city council member for West Memphis and was also affiliated with Person A’s church,” prosecutors said last year in Carter’s case. “Jones was a Deputy Director of ADHS (Arkansas Department of Human Services from in or about April 2007 to in or about July 2013. … As an employee and high ranking manager, Jones was an agent of ADHS and he was responsible for, among other things, overseeing five of ADHS’s ten divisions. Person C was the owner of two mental health companies, Company A and Company B. Company A provided outpatient mental health services to juveniles. Company B provided inpatient mental health services to juveniles.”
Prosecutors also alleged an intricate set of meetings at restaurants in Memphis and Arkansas helped to further the conspiracy.
“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 last 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.”
Prosecutors have said that “Person A” would give Carter all or part of the money; and Carter gave the money to Jones.