Consultant Gets Six Years In Prison For Kickback Scheme Involving Arkansas Lawmakers

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A consultant linked to a kickback scheme involving state legislators was sentenced Thursday (Sept. 6) to six years in federal prison.

Randell G. Shelton, Jr., 39, of Alma was found guilty in May on 12 of 15 counts related to fraud and money laundering.

Randell G. Shelton

His attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks for probation and home confinement.

Prosecutors said Shelton was part of a bribery scheme in which state funds were directed to non-profit entities in exchange for kickbacks, many of which were funneled through his business.

Shelton's co-conspirators, former state legislators Jon Woods and Micah Neal, allegedly directed money between to Ecclesia College under a state grant program that has since been found to be unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.

Former Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III was also indicted for directing state funding to the college in Springdale in exchange for kickbacks, the AP reported.

Woods was sentenced Wednesday (Sept. 5) to 18 years in prison. Neal and Paris both pleaded guilty before trial. Their sentencing hearings are set for next week.

Investigators said the scheme sought to steer General Improvement Fund money from the state legislature to projects supported through funding distributed by the Northwest Arkansas Development District.

The purposes of the scheme was laid out in a lengthy indictment:

  • 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.