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story.lead_photo.caption Jon Woods, Oren Paris III, and Micah Neal.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former state Sen. Jon Woods is set to be sentenced Sept. 5 on 15 charges of public corruption for taking kickbacks from state grants he directed to nonprofit groups.

Woods' co-defendant, Randell Shelton Jr., will be sentenced Sept. 6. A federal jury found Shelton guilty of 12 charges.

Oren Paris III, former president of Ecclesia College in Springdale, pleaded guilty April 4 to one count of conspiracy and will be sentenced Sept. 12. Paris' guilty plea was a conditional plea that will be dropped if an appeal to have the case dismissed is successful.

Attorneys for Woods and Shelton have said the two will appeal their convictions.

The court has also set sentencing for former state Rep. Micah Neal, who pleaded guilty Jan. 4, 2017, for his role in the scheme. His sentencing date is Sept. 13.

Woods and Shelton were convicted in a kickback scheme involving Ecclesia College. Woods also was convicted in a similar scheme involving AmeriWorks, a Bentonville nonprofit company.

Shelton and Woods were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud. Woods also was convicted of money laundering tied to the purchase of a cashier's check. The remaining convictions were for wire or mail fraud.

Woods and Shelton face up to 20 years in prison on each of the fraud and conspiracy charges. Woods faces an additional 10 years on the money-laundering charge. They must also forfeit any money or property obtained through their actions regarding the charges on which they were convicted.

Woods and Shelton are free on bail, but their travel was further restricted when they were convicted.

Shelton, Woods and Paris were indicted in March 2017.

Paris resigned as Ecclesia's president and from the private Christian college's board before his guilty plea.

Paris disguised the kickbacks as consulting fees paid to Shelton's business, Paradigm Strategic Consulting, according to the indictment. Shelton passed the money to Woods and Neal, the government said.

The exact amounts weren't listed in the indictment because many of the payments to Woods were in cash, the government said.

In addition to Neal, three other current or former lawmakers have pleaded guilty to corruption charges related to state General Improvement Fund grants.

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State Desk on 07/10/2018

Print Headline: Sentencing dates set for participants in kickback scheme

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  • Libertarian
    July 10, 2018 at 7:51 a.m.

    And what about the other senators that took up to half a million dollars?

  • abb
    July 10, 2018 at 7:56 a.m.

    Throw throw the book at them! R or D doesn't matter! Break the public trust and we. Break. YOU!

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