Attorney in Federal Kickback Case Violates Judges Protective Order

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Evidence is missing in the corruption case of former state Senator Jon Woods.

Woods is accused of taking kickbacks, from Ecclesia College president Oren Paris III, in exchange for delegating government improvement funds to the private college. This deal was allegedly brokered by consultant Randall Shelton, Jr.

Documents that were ordered sealed by a federal judge were posted on the federal court filing website--a website that's public. They’ve since been removed from the site.

The contents of those documents were published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Now, defense attorney Gregory Payne from the Story Law Firm in Fayetteville could face disciplinary action by a judge for posting the documents.

“You can do it easily and you can do it 24 hours a day. Now, the interesting thing about this case is apparently from what the judge's order is that the lawyer filed it after normal business hours closed at 5 p.m.,” local attorney Doug Norwood said.

The federal court documents about the missing files were posted after court hours and weren't taken down for more than 10 hours.

“Now, when you file a document on PACER it immediately goes on email to all of the other lawyers and so their phones would immediately ding. Well, then what happens is if there is an issue you have to be able to get a hold of the judge,” Norwood said.

The reported leaked documents revealed the FBI admitted to deleting evidence, which were audio files of conversations recorded by former Springdale Representative Micah Neal.

The FBI agent said he wiped the computer to protect private medical information, but deleted the recordings by mistake.

“And so now the FBI is going to have to submit this to other agents to look at it. The U.S. Attorneys people are going to examine it and see what is potentially there that they would've had to disclose under Federal law,” he said.

This process is now just further delaying the trial that was originally set to begin at the beginning of December.

Payne, the attorney for Oren Paris III, has a hearing in front of a judge next month to see if he is in contempt of court. Former state Rep. Michah Neal pleaded guilty to his part in the scandal in January of 2017.