FAYETTEVILLE — A former Arkansas state representative has been sentenced to three years’ probation for his role in a bribery scheme.
Former Rep. Micah Neal was sentenced Thursday to probation, the first year of which he must serve under house arrest. Neal also must complete 300 hours of community service and pay $200,000 in restitution.
Prosecutors said Neal and former state Sen. Jon Woods directed state funds to two nonprofits in exchange for kickbacks which were funneled through a consulting company. Neal pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.
Neal’s sentence is significantly lighter than his three co-conspirators’. Woods was sentenced last week to 18 years in prison.
Arkansas Business reports the judge granted prosecutors’ request for leniency, citing Neal’s extensive cooperation.
Arkansas inmate found dead from apparent suicide
LITTLE ROCK — Authorities are investigating after an inmate was found dead from an apparent suicide at a north Arkansas correctional facility.
The Department of Correction said staff at the North Central Unit in Calico Rock found 39-year-old Eric Fouth hanging in the facility’s boiler room Thursday morning. He had been assigned to work. Fouth was discovered by other inmates working in the area. He was pronounced dead after he was taken to an area hospital.
Arkansas state police are investigating Fouth’s death, and the corrections department says it’s also conducting an internal investigation. Fouth was serving a 30-year sentence for residential burglary out of Pulaski County.
Arkansas chief justice recuses from lawsuit limits case
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court's chief justice has removed himself from hearing a challenge to a ballot measure that would limit damages awarded in lawsuits and give the Legislature control over state court rules.
Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Thursday recused himself from the state's appeal of a lower court ruling that disqualified the proposed constitutional amendment from the November ballot.
A Pulaski County judge last week ruled the proposal unconstitutionally combines disparate proposals into one measure.
Kemp gave no reason for the recusal in a one-sentence letter filed with the court, but the chief justice has spoken out previously against the measure.
Separately, Kemp also recused himself from one of two cases challenging a casino legalization ballot measure.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson will have to name special justices for the cases.