Federal judge grants extension to former Arkansas lawmakers’ prison sentence start date

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

A federal judge has granted Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV, a former state lawmaker sentenced earlier this year for his part in a bribery scheme, more time before reporting to prison because of health conditions.

In an order filed earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller allowed Wilkins, 68, to report to federal prison May 1. The former state senator and county judge from Pine Bluff was originally scheduled to begin his sentence March 7.

The extension came after Bill Stanley, an attorney representing Wilkins, filed a motion saying that Wilkins had received a colonoscopy that revealed multiple polyps. Wilkins also was seeking treatment for kidney failure and degenerative spinal disease, according to the motion.

Wilkins, a Democrat, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay $123,000 restitution to the state in January for his role in a bribery plot involving a nonprofit that provided Medicaid-funded counseling services to troubled youths and adults in Arkansas.

During his April 2018 plea hearing, Wilkins admitted to accepting more than $80,000 in cash and donations for himself and his church, St. James United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, where he was the minister, between 2010 and 2014. He admitted to directing legislation to benefit Preferred Family Healthcare of Springfield, Mo., and was one of several state lawmakers ensnared in illegal dealings with executives of the nonprofit, including Jeremy Hutchinson of Little Rock, a former state senator, and Eddie Wayne Cooper of Melbourne, a former House member.

Wilkins represented Arkansas' House District 17 as a state representative from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2011 to 2015, and District 5 in the Arkansas Senate from 2001-2011. He served as Jefferson County judge from Jan. 5, 2017, until he resigned from the office a little more than 14 months into his term, on March 22, 2018.

Information for this article was contributed by Dale Ellis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Upcoming Events