Former legislator Denny Altes pleads guilty to abuse of public trust charge

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,048 views 

Former Arkansas legislator and state drug czar Denny Altes pled guilty on Monday (Jan. 23) to one count of abuse of public trust, a class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of probation, a $250 fine, and court costs.

Altes was a GOP candidate for Sebastian County Judge when charged in May 2022 with abuse of public trust.

Also running as GOP candidate was Sebastian County Treasurer Steve Hotz. Emily White, a special prosecuting attorney for the 12th Judicial District, investigated the case, which, according to sources who spoke to Talk Business & Politics, included the effort by Altes to bribe Hotz so he would not run for county judge.

White filed a motion seeking to limit public disclosure of details about the case. Details of the investigation and its findings were not made public on Monday. The records are expected to be released as early as Wednesday.

White told Talk Business & Politics she can not say if the guilty plea and sentencing will prevent Altes from again running for public office, saying the final arbiter on that question would be an appellate court. She noted that a 2021 statute (21-8-305) preventing those found guilty of public trust from running for public office was included in Altes’ sentencing.

Altes served in the House of Representatives from 1999-2003 and represented Senate District 13 from 2003 to 2011. He returned to the House of Representatives in 2011 and represented the 76th District until January 2015. Altes has also served two stints with the Sebastian County Quorum Court. He also served as Arkansas’ drug czar under Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Judge William Randal Wright, with the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Hempstead and Nevada counties, was appointed to preside over the case after judges in the Sebastian County Circuit recused.