Former Lobbyist To Be Sentenced In Arkansas Corruption Scheme

Nov 25, 2019

A mug shot of Rusty Cranford, who is to be sentenced Monday as part of a corruption investigation.

A former lobbyist who pleaded guilty as part of a corruption investigation that ensnared several Arkansas state lawmakers is to be sentenced Monday. Rusty Cranford could face up to 10 years in federal prison, but his defense attorney says Cranford’s cooperation with investigators should weigh heavily with the judge.

Since pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge in June 2018, Cranford has repeatedly met with investigators and appeared before federal grand juries.

Prosecutors say he bribed lawmakers on behalf of Missouri nonprofit Preferred Family Healthcare, which at one time was among Arkansas’s largest Medicaid recipients. It operated 47 substance abuse and behavioral treatment centers in the state until the its Medicaid certification was cancelled when the scandal broke in 2017.

Several former state legislators were convicted in the corruption probe, including the governor's nephew, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. Cranford is expected to eventually testify against former executives of the nonprofit who were also charged.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that in a court motion filed Friday, the U.S. attorney wants Cranford to pay the federal government $3.73 million dollars, which is how much he made in the scheme. He would also forfeit his share of properties in northwest Arkansas and Florida.

Sentencing is set for 1:15 p.m. in Springfield, Missouri.