Former state Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, who received an 18-month federal prison sentence for using campaign contributions for personal expenses, is back home in Jonesboro for the remainder of the sentence, the Jonesboro Sun reports today.
Bureau of Prison records showed Bookout, who began serving his sentence in May 2016 in a minimum security prison in Illinois, was transferred to a halfway house in Dallas July 6. He returned to his home in Jonesboro July 14, the Sun reported.
The Sun article said inmates may complete the last 10 percent of their terms — almost two months in Bookout’s case — in home confinement. The Sun’s attempt to talk with Bookout was unsuccessful.
Bookout pleaded guilty to a mail fraud charge, related to use of credit cards for the many purchases made with campaign money over a long period of years. A local activist blew the whistle after noting the suspicious amount of expenses Bookout reported, without itemization, in races in which he had no opponents. That led to a state Ethics Commission investigation and the federal prosecution.
Bookout was sentenced to two years of supervised probation after completion of the sentence and must repay $150,000 to contributors. According to the Sun, he has paid $31,000 so far and must use 10 percent of monthly income to continue repayment.
Bookout, a Democrat, served in the House from 1999 to 2004 and was elected in 2006 to fill the Senate seat of his father, the late Jerry Bookout. He resigned in 2013. His colleagues elected him to a term as president pro tempore of the Senate.