Public Corruption Case Hearing Discusses If Recordings Can Be Used As Evidence

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A hearing in U.S Federal Court was held Thursday(Jan.25) in the public corruption case involving former Senator Jon Woods, Ecclessia College President Oren Paris III and Alma consultant Randell Shelton JR.

The hearing was to discuss if 79 recordings of conversations recorded by Micah Neal between he and Jon Woods can be used as evidence in the case.

The judge said they also discussed if an FBI agent mishandled the recordings. A court order filed Wednesday (Jan. 24) was also discussed.

The first witness called to the stand was a paralegal from the Wilkerson Law Firm, which is who represents Neal. She testified that she ordered a pen recording device at her boss’ request on March 30, 2016. She said Neal came into their office and took that device and would then bring it back for her to download the files.

She said Neal would bring the device in, she would download the files onto her computer and then delete the files from the device.

She said she was told by her boss on Nov. 2, 2016 that the FBI needed the files. After realizing they were too big for a disc, she uploaded them to Dropbox and shared the link with the FBI agent.

She said the FBI agent accepted the link, but from what she could see he never downloaded any files.

On Nov. 15, 2017, the Wilkerson Law Firm received several calls because one of the recordings was missing from Dropbox.

She said according to the Dropbox activity log, the email belonging to attorney Chad Atwell, who represents Shelton, had accessed and deleted the file created on April 22, 2016.

She said she has kept all the files including the one on her work computer.

Micah Neal's attorney Shane Wilkinson testified that he never actually listened to any of the recordings. Neal has already pleaded guilty on fraud charges connected to the case.

The agent said the recordings were deleted when he wiped the computer because it had sensitive private medical records on it. What made the medical records so sensitive was discussed in an ongoing closed hearing.

The case is set for trial in April.