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Gillean found guilty in UCA burglary case, sentenced to prison

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published March 12, 2014 at 9:36 a.m. Updated March 12, 2014 at 5:45 p.m.


Jack Gillean, center, is escorted by authorities from the Van Buren County courthouse in March 2014 after his sentencing.

Gillean sentenced to prison in UCA burglary case

Former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted Wednesday of six counts of commercial burglary. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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4 p.m. UPDATE:

CLINTON — After about an hour of deliberation, jurors have sentenced former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean to prison after convicting him of six counts of commercial burglary.

Gillean will serve three years in prison and will also have to pay thousands in fines. Prosecutors said Gillean will be eligible for parole after about 6 months.

Gillean will be allowed to remain free on bond pending appeal of the convictions after he is booked into the Faulkner County jail Wednesday afternoon, Judge Charles Clawson ruled. Gillean didn't answer a reporter's questions as he was led in handcuffs from the courthouse to a patrol vehicle.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell said afterward that he was pleased with the sentence.

"I think the sentence is appropriate," he said. "I think the community has spoken and said they're not going to stand for this type of action. He's got to be held responsible and the jury did that today."

The jury sentenced Gillean to prison and a $10,000 fine on the first of the six counts as well as 10 years probation and $5,000 fines on each of the five other counts.

But Clawson ordered the sentences be served concurrently, so the total fine will be $10,000, Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody Hiland said.

3 p.m. UPDATE:

Jurors have begun considering a sentence for former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean after finding him guilty of several counts tied to providing his master key to a student who used it to steal tests from university offices.

Jack Gillean was found guilty earlier Wednesday of six counts of commercial burglary, Class C felonies that each carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The jurors began deliberating a sentence shortly after 2:30 p.m. after hearing from two more witnesses, including a UCA detective who read texts from Cameron Stark's phone that suggested Gillean may have shared marijuana with Stark.

Stark is a former student who used Gillean's key to access university offices and steal the tests. He was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Gillean.

UCA Police Department Detective Brian Williams was called as a prosecution witness during the sentencing phase to read a series of texts between Stark's phone and Gillean's phone.

In one, a message sent from Stark's phone questioned if the recipient "could spare a bowl." The reply from Gillean's phone noted he had "plenty of weed," Williams said.

Gillean's attorney, Tim Dudley, pointed out that there was no proof Gillean actually sent the messages. He also said it was unfair to bring in the drug allegations at sentencing in a burglary case.

"If they wanted to charge Jack Gillean with a drug offense, they could have done so," he said. "That ain't right and that ain't fair."

Dudley went on to ask the jury to sentence Gillean only to a fine, or, if that wasn't enough, probation. He said the fact that Gillean lost his job and suffered the humiliation associated with the case should be taken into account.

"If you look at what he's already suffered, he's been punished a bunch," Dudley said, acknowledging Gillean made "errors in judgment" after starting to run with the "wrong company."

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Troy Braswell took exception to that comment while asking the jury to sentence Gillean to prison.

"Do you know who that 'company' is," he asked. "College students. 'I'm going to blame college students.' They're going to blame the kids — blame the college students. He had the keys. He gave them up. No one else."

Braswell said he was "shocked" Dudley would ask for only a fine in light of a "path of destruction" left behind by Gillean at UCA. And he asked the jurors not to forget that a high-ranking UCA official was "helping a student find drugs."

"Is that justice in this case," he said of a sentence without prison time. "Don't forget about what the university has gone through."

12:30 p.m. UPDATE:

CLINTON — Former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean has been found guilty on all counts in his commercial burglary trial.

The jury returned with its verdict shortly after 12:20 p.m. after about an hour an half of deliberation. The jury was dismissed for lunch but will return at 1:30 p.m. to consider sentencing.

Gillean faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the six commercial burglary counts.


Jurors began deliberation shortly before 11 a.m. in the burglary trial of former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean.

The defense had rested its case without calling any witnesses before each side presented their closing arguments Wednesday in Van Buren County, where the trial was moved because of pretrial publicity.

Gillean is facing six counts of commercial burglary, which each carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors say he knowingly provided his UCA master keys to a student so the student could steal tests from professors' offices.

Gillean's attorney contends Cameron Stark, the student who received immunity from prosecution and testified against Gillean, is lying to avoid jail time himself and took the keys without Gillean's knowledge.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell argued Stark's testimony was corroborated by other witnesses and evidence heard during the two-day trial, including an order signed by Gillean to get a new key that would access an office Gillean's previously issued master key couldn't.

Braswell called that a "smoking gun," noting the order came after Stark approached Gillean when the original key didn't work. Gillean replied he would "take care of it," Braswell said, and the new key was then ordered.

Braswell asked the jury to return guilty verdicts on all counts.

"It's about holding the chief of staff responsible for his conduct," he said, pointing to Gillean at the defense table. "It's no one's fault but his own."

But defense attorney Tim Dudley said jurors shouldn't believe Stark or two other witnesses who corroborated parts of his story, noting there were inconsistencies in their versions of events and timelines of what happened.

Stark, for instance, told police immediately that his text messages would show communication between him and Gillean about the keys, but investigators weren't able to find any such messages in Stark's phone. Dudley said that alone is enough to "prove Cameron Stark is a liar."

"Cameron Stark is a sow's ear and the government is trying to make a silk purse out of him," Dudley told the jurors. "And they can't do it."

Stark testified Monday that he developed a friendship with Gillean and the two became so close that Stark would often stay at Gillean's apartment, bring girlfriends over and drink with him.

Dudley, in his closing arguments, criticized prosecutors for giving immunity to Stark and another student who participated in at least one of the burglaries. Gillean, meanwhile, is accused of being present for only the first break-in, when he purportedly waited outside while Stark found and printed off a test.

"You let the admitted burglars go to try to get a high-profile defendant," said Dudley, who also said Gillean had no motive to help Stark and that the burglary charges filed didn't fit the crime.

Braswell defended the way the case was charged and why only Gillean was targeted.

"Immunity was given to the students in his trust, his care," he said. "And he violated that every single time he passed the key. And he knew it."

Gillean resigned from his post at UCA in 2012 after the controversy surrounding the keys came to light.


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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

Pacorabone says... March 12, 2014 at 1:04 p.m.

Gillian is sure to find some new "friends" in the big house

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... March 12, 2014 at 1:24 p.m.

Heads are rolling this month.

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lkmmkl07091558 says... March 12, 2014 at 2:22 p.m.

I still don't understand what his motive for letting them steal the test was unless he was selling them or something. Why would he care about helping his buddy out like that and putting his career on the line..... Give us some REAL details because at this point it could be very well what his defending attorney was arguing.

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Dontsufferfools says... March 12, 2014 at 2:34 p.m.

Pretty tired joke, chiefmom. Keep your day job. His sentence will be pretty light. Hard to see how he benefited from the break-ins other than ingratiating himself with Stark. It's the equivalent of a professor helping a hot coed cheat. Difference being, he undermined professors who he was supposed to be supporting administratively.

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Pacorabone says... March 12, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

This is about more than just stealing tests. It's more about lying, Stealing, cheating, abuse of authority, influence and favoritism all for unlawful gain.
There can only be a few reasons why a person of this statute would do this. (Provide access for a student to steal tests from offices and computers). Sex, drugs or both..
There has to be some personal favor/gain for Gillean to do what he did.

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