Special Prosecutor Will Oversee Investigation Into River Valley Sports Complex

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A special prosecutor will investigate criminal complaints related to the failed River Valley Sports Complex, as well as an $80,000 wire transfer received by former State Sen. Jake Files.

Jason Barrett was appointed Wednesday (Oct. 17) to oversee the case, according to Daniel Shue, prosecuting attorney for Sebastian County.

Shue said he contacted Arkansas State Police last year about the issue, which stemmed from a 2012 proposal to build eight tournament-quality softball fields, two concession stands and associated parking at Chaffee Crossing, according to Talk Business & Politics.

Files and Lee Webb Jr., the two partners of River Valley Sports Complex Inc., were behind the original idea of the complex, which was set to be completed in July 2016.

Fort Smith gave the company about $1.6 million as their part of the investment and donated the land for the complex. The city eventually pulled out of the agreement in 2017 after two years of delays, according to TB&P.

Files, a Republican, later resigned from his District 8 seat and admitted to taking thousands of dollars in federal grant money intended for the complex.

He is serving an 18-month sentence in federal prison in Oklahoma, according to the Associated Press.

An inspection of the site in August noted several safety concerns, including poor masonry work and improperly constructed buildings.

The report also recommended leveling the existing structures and starting over as a cost-effective measure.

Carl Geffken, Fort Smith City Administrator, said in September city officials hope to have a plan for the site by the end of the year.