Former State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson receives 46-month sentence

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,376 views 

Former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock (photo courtesy of KUAR)

Former Arkansas State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, was sentenced Friday (Feb. 3) to 46 months in federal prison for his role in tax fraud and bribery scheme.

Hutchinson, 48, is the son of former U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson and the nephew of former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson pleaded guilty on June 25, 2019, in the Eastern District of Arkansas to filing a false tax return; pleaded guilty on June 25, 2019, to an information filed in the Western District of Arkansas to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery; and pleaded guilty in the Western District of Missouri on July 8, 2019, to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.

According to court documents from 2010 through 2017, Hutchinson stole and misappropriated thousands of dollars in state campaign contributions for his own personal use and then filed false federal income tax returns from 2011 to 2014 to conceal his conduct.

In addition, Hutchinson was hired as outside counsel by Dr. Benjamin Burris, an orthodontist who owned and operated orthodontic clinics throughout the state of Arkansas. In exchange for payments and legal work, Hutchinson pushed legislation beneficial to Burris. Hutchinson was provided legal work to conceal the nature of his arrangement.

Hutchinson is still pending sentencing in the Western District of Missouri for his role in a separate multimillion-dollar public corruption scheme that involved embezzlement, bribes, and illegal campaign contributions for elected public officials. According to court documents, Hutchinson accepted bribes in the form of monthly legal retainers and other things of value from employees and executives of Preferred Family Healthcare Inc., a Springfield, Missouri-based health care charity. In exchange for the bribes, Hutchinson provided favorable legislative and official action for the charity.

In 2022, Preferred Family Healthcare agreed to pay more than $8 million in forfeiture and restitution to the federal government and the state of Arkansas under the terms of a non-prosecution agreement, in which the charity admitted the criminal conduct of its former officers and employees.

Several former executives from the charity, former members of the Arkansas state legislature, and others have pleaded guilty in federal court as part of the long-running, multi-jurisdiction investigation, including the following:

Former PFH Chief Operating Officer Bontiea Bernedette Goss;
Former PFH Chief Financial Officer Tommy “Tom” Ray Goss, husband of Bontiea Goss;
Former PFH Chief Executive Officer Marilyn Luann Nolan;
Former PFH Director of Operations and Executive Vice President Robin Raveendran;
Keith Fraser Noble;
Former lobbyist Milton Russell “Rusty” Cranford;
Political consultant Donald Andrew Jones;
Former Arkansas State Rep. Eddie Cooper; and
Former Arkansas State Sen. and State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV.

The FBI, IRS, and the Offices of the Inspectors General from the Departments of Justice, Labor, and the FDIC investigated the cases.