Trial Delayed For Former State Sen. Jon Woods Pending New Evidence

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- The jury trial scheduled Monday (Dec. 4) for former state Sen. Jon Woods has been delayed due to newly discovered evidence, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks on Friday (Dec. 1) canceled the Dec. 4 date of the trial so Woods and prosecutors have time to review the new evidence.

"All the parties generally agreed that an evidentiary hearing would be proper, but only after the parities have an opportunity to finish reviewing the newly discovered evidence that would be the subject of that hearing," Brooks wrote in his order.

"However, the parties also all recognized that it would be impossible for this to be accomplished before (Monday)."

Brooks denied Woods' request to delay the trial Thursday (Nov. 30).

Woods faces 11 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of honest services mail fraud.

The indictment outlined the alleged scheme to steer General Improvement Fund money from the state legislature to projects supported through funding distributed by the Northwest Arkansas Development District.

The indictment also named the president of Ecclesia College in Springdale, Oren Paris III, who is facing nine counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of honest services mail fraud after receiving funding from GIF monies. The college is not listed in the indictment.

The purposes of the alleged scheme outlined in the lengthy indictment state that:

  • Woods and Neal sought to enrich themselves “by soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for using their official positions as Arkansas legislators to direct GIF monies” to two different entities, identified as Entity A and C;
  • Paris sought to enrich himself, his family, and Entity A, by “paying bribes to Woods and Neal through Shelton”; and
  • Shelton sought to enrich himself by “keeping a portion of the bribe funds paid to Woods and Neal.”
  • The activity took place between 2013 and 2015 and included GIF monies totaling $600,000 over the course of the alleged illegal efforts.

While Neal has pleaded guilty both Paris and Woods say they are innocent of any wrongdoing.