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story.lead_photo.caption Former state Sen. Jon Woods (right), surrounded by members of his legal team, waves Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, as he walks into the John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Building in Fayetteville. - Photo by Andy Shupe

The federal government has asked to delay hearings set for Thursday and Friday in the corruption case of former Arkansas state Sen. Jon Woods because a federal investigator and the interim U.S. attorney have been summoned as defense witnesses, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Woods and his two co-defendants, Oren Paris III and Randell Shelton Jr., are accused of participating in a kickback scheme. No order delaying the hearing was in court files as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, but the hearing dates had been removed from the court's schedule, according to the newspaper.

The hearing scheduled for Thursday was going to deal with 79 recently discovered audio files covertly recorded by former Arkansas state Rep. Micah Neal, a court order cited by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said. Neal pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to accepting kickbacks in return for state grants.

In its request to delay the hearing, the government said it learned information Tuesday about FBI special agent Robert Cessario's actions relating to the laptop used to access the shared folder containing the recordings, the newspaper reported.

"The government needs additional time to investigate legal and factual issues relating to the newly discovered information that impacts Special Agent Cessario and his potential testimony," the motion reportedly reads.

Defense attorneys for Woods reportedly called both Cessario and interim U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser as witnesses for the Friday hearing. The government said it needed time to prepare, according to the newspaper.


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    December 13, 2017 at 9:08 p.m.

    Tip of the iceberg.

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