Former State Rep. Micah Neal Gets Probation In Kickback Scheme

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Former state representative Micah Neal received three years probation Thursday (Sept. 13) for his role in a kickback scheme involving state money.

Neal pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire services fraud as part of a plot to direct General Improvement Fund money to non-profit entities in exchange for kickbacks.

Neal will spend the first year on house arrest with an electronic monitor. He'll be required to perform 300 hours of community service the next two years.

Judge Tim Brooks also ordered Neal to pay $200,000 in restitution.

Neal agreed to testify for prosecutors against former colleague Jon Woods and consultant Randell Shelton, who were sentenced earlier this month for their role in the conspiracy.

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.

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.

Woods served as a State Senator from 2013 to 2017. Between approximately 2013 and approximately 2015, Woods used his official position as a senator to appropriate and direct GIF money to two non-profit entities by, among other things, directly authorizing
GIF disbursements and advising other Arkansas legislators – including Neal -- to contribute GIF to the non-profits, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

To pay and conceal the kickbacks to Woods and Neal, Paris paid a portion of the GIF to Shelton’s consulting company.

“Public corruption cases are among the most serious crimes that are investigated and prosecuted in our district,” said U.S. Attorney Kees.

“These cases represent the very worst in deception and fraud because they involve a betrayal of the public trust."