A Service of UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Arkansas Lobbyist Pleads Guilty In Bribery Scheme Involving Legislators

Rusty Cranford

An ex-lobbyist has pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe Arkansas lawmakers and embezzle from a Missouri-based nonprofit where he worked.

Rusty Cranford of Rogers, Arkansas, admitted paying bribes to former state Sen. Jon Woods, former state Rep. Henry Wilkins IV and a legislator identified only as "Arkansas Senator A." Outside his lobbying work, Cranford oversaw Springfield, Missouri-based Preferred Family Healthcare's operations in Arkansas.

Woods has been convicted and Wilkins has pleaded guilty. Both await sentencing. A plea agreement unveiled Thursday described "Senator A" as the sponsor of two bills that legislative records attribute solely to Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, a nephew of Arkansas' governor.

The senator's lawyer, Tim Dudley, said he had reviewed the plea agreement and said he was confident Hutchinson did nothing illegal or unethical.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.