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story.lead_photo.caption Milton "Rusty" Cranford

An indicted Arkansas lobbyist accused of trying to arrange the murder of an alleged co-conspirator in an illegal lobbying and kickback scheme is "adamantly" denying the allegations, an attorney representing him said on Tuesday.

According to a motion to detain lobbyist Milton Russell "Rusty" Cranford, prosecutors believe the motive of the murder-for-hire plan was to prevent Donald Andrew "D.A." Jones, 62, of Willingboro, N.J., from testifying and describing $264,000 in kickbacks received by Cranford and one of Cranford's employees. Jones is a Philadelphia-based political consultant who accepted money embezzled from Preferred Family Healthcare, according to his Dec. 18 guilty plea on one count of conspiring to defraud Preferred Family of $973,807 from April 2011 until January 2017.

Cranford should be denied bail "because clear and convincing evidence establishes there is a serious risk the defendant will obstruct and attempt to obstruct justice, and threaten, injure, and intimidate prospective witnesses, and attempt to do so," the motion to detain states.

Nathan Garrett, Cranford's Kansas City, Mo.-based defense attorney, said his client "adamantly denies the government’s allegations regarding any attempt to harm, intimidate or interfere with a witness or to flee from these charges."

"Mr. Cranford has been well aware of this investigation and its impending charges for more than three years," Garrett wrote, adding Cranford "has no history of violence or threats of violence whatsoever."

"The government’s claims made to detain Rusty Cranford are full of hearsay from highly questionable sources, untested and unreliable aspersions, and mischaracterizations," he wrote. "While Mr. Cranford has much more to say in this regard, we will address these matters, along with the underlying indictment, in the course of litigation.”

Neither Cranford nor Garrett would have any further comment at this time, a spokesman for Garrett's law firm said.

Click here for the full story in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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