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Federal trial on hold after Arkansas man accused of fraud slumps to floor in medical emergency

by Dale Ellis | October 19, 2021 at 1:09 p.m.

The trial of a Pulaski County man indicted on charges of defrauding the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration out of nearly $400,000 over an eight-year period beginning in mid-2009 came to an abrupt halt Tuesday morning after the defendant suffered an apparent overdose as attorneys were preparing to begin jury selection.

Rickey L. Warren of Hensley was accused in a federal indictment of receiving disability benefits from both agencies while he was also operating a construction company he said he had shut down.

Witnesses said when he walked into the courtroom, Warren sat at the defense table and began slipping pills into his mouth before he slumped to the floor.

After emergency medical personnel removed Warren from the courtroom and took him to a local hospital, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright adjourned court for the day.

“I feel terrible for anyone who is so depressed they would do this,” Wright said. “Did I hear him say this is not a suicide?”

“You did, Your Honor,” replied Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross, who is the lead government attorney prosecuting the case. “He said this is not a suicide, it is end of life.”

Wright said although she would tentatively set trial to begin Wednesday morning, she cautioned the attorneys that the delay could wind up being much longer.

“If I have to continue this again and it continues into next week it may have to continue into next year,” Wright said.

Wright, who is on senior status, said she has been working to clear her docket in anticipation of leaving the bench next year.

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