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story.lead_photo.caption A 2009 file photo of Jerry Walsh is shown next to a screenshot of the first page of his plea agreement.

The former executive director of South Arkansas Youth Services has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in connection with the public corruption investigation that has ensnared several former elected officials, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Jerry Walsh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States. Walsh diverted more than $100,000 in agency funds to an Arkansas state senator — identified only as “Arkansas Senator C” — with the understanding that the lawmaker would “take favorable official action to benefit” Walsh, the agency and others, according to the plea agreement.

Walsh met the lawmaker in May 2013 and discussed his agency’s need to stop state agencies “from threatening to pull state contracts,” the pleading says.

From July 1, 2013 through Nov. 11, 2014, Walsh directed roughly $123,750 in agency funds to the lawmaker without the knowledge of the agency’s board of directors, court documents say. The senator also worked as a private attorney, and the payments were made as a retainer and legal fees.

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Jerry Walsh guilty plea documents

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Walsh understood that in exchange for the legal fees, the lawmaker would work to preserve the agency’s existing state contracts and influence state officials from “taking negative action” against the agency, the pleading says.

Former Arkansas lobbyist Rusty Cranford, who pleaded guilty last month to bribing public officials, connected Walsh to the senator and determined how much the senator would be paid, court documents say.

As part of an agreement with Cranford, Walsh locked his agency “into a more expensive contract with Cranford’s lobbying firms and employ a relative of Cranford who would have a ‘noshow’ job with SAYS,” according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Duane “DAK” Keys. “Between the new contract with the Cranford lobbying firm and the payment for the no-show job, the nonprofit paid out an additional $262,000” without the knowledge of its board of directors.

Four former lawmakers and a Pennsylvania-based political consultant have been convicted in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice probe in Arkansas and Missouri.

Walsh’s case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Walsh waived the indictment while pleading guilty.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • JMort69
    July 19, 2018 at 3:31 p.m.

    And another one down, another one down, another one bites the dust! So, let's see who "Senator C" is? He was a senior senator in the 89th assembly and an attorney. From former indictments, it has been determined that "Senator A" was, apparently, Jeremy Hutchinson, the silent governor's nephew. He too was an attorney. How many starving attorneys do we have in our legislature? We all know there are lots of them in all of our towns. They hang out their shingles and no one hires them. So, apparently, they run for office and take money under the table, at our expense. Another one we know was broke is Bob Ballinger. He lost his home and business,so, he ran for office. You don't have to be an attorney to be a crook, but, obviously, if you are in our crooked legislature, it sure helps. I say, keep it up Mr. Kees, et al. You start cleaning the sewers in our state house and, hopefully, we the people of the state of Arkansas will finish the job come election time. We will vote for term limits, which will get rid of up to 80% of the current legislators I hear, and the rest of them, we will flush down the toilet with our votes. Thank God for the feds, or these sleazeballs would have kept on stealing from us, and the rest of their co-harts in the legislature would have sat silently and let them. VOTE THEM OUT, VOTE THEM OUT!!

  • dearlo
    July 19, 2018 at 3:48 p.m.

    JMort69 oh yes we are counting the days and waiting for election day. Then we will have a party for the good people of Arkansas. Smile

  • ZeebronZ
    July 19, 2018 at 7:31 p.m.

    JMort69 it would be nice to have legislators who work for US instead of THEMSELVES! That has never been the way in this state. This could be a new Utopia and finally progress past the Dark Ages! HOORAY!

  • noname2u
    July 20, 2018 at 10:24 a.m.

    The governor's statement, please! The party's statement, please! This isn't a subject to sweep under the rug. The Republican party is the party of corruption. Vote.them.out.