Great reporting this morning by Doug Thompson of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on yet another unethical scheme of Jon Woods, the former state senator now serving 18 years in federal prison. The question it raises: How much don’t we know about Jon Woods’ tenure as a state-supported criminal enterprise?
Boiled down on the latest: Woods got a co-signature on a $30,000 unsecured loan from a Fayetteville orthodontist, Richard Roblee. (This article indicated incorrectly previously that Roblee made the loan; he co-signed a bank loan to Woods.) Subsequently, Woods instigated a plan to give the orthodontist a $900,000 state grant (taxpayer money) for a medical records business he led. Woods picked up and hand-delivered the check. He later got $50,100 in unsecured loans with help of a co-signature from another officer of the medical records company, Jim Phillips of Springdale. The medical records company flopped. Woods paid back the loans, according to Woods’ attorney. Small law-violating detail: Woods never disclosed these loans as the state’s financial disclosure law for public officials requires. The feds investigated the deal and haven’t found sufficient evidence to prosecute. Woods attorney says there was no quid pro quo and, thus, no crime.
When your best defense of a special interest handout of state money to a failed business enterprises in concert with unsecured and undisclosed loans helped by officers of that enterprise to a deadbeat, now
Woods is serving time for taking kickbacks for state money shipped to another healthcare operation, Ameriworks, and to Ecclesia College, incorporated as a church but run by a pal of Woods who took the money and used it for some real estate deals. That college continues to be represented by a law firm including Rep. Bob Ballinger, who also earned a little money for doing legal work on projects financed with the state money. Again, please note: “NO CRIME HAS BEEN ALLEGED!” against Ballinger.
Woods also cooked up a legislative pay raise, ethics law workarounds, longer term limits, taxpayer handouts to chambers of commerce and an unrealized scheme to divert medical marijuana taxation to Ecclesia. Busy man. But likely not a full accounting.
Woods is on his way to becoming King Rat in the federal prison system, where he was in on a scheme to trade work on Trump’s border wall for prison release for him and other serious offenders, some with violent records. Don’t laugh. Jon Woods and Donald Trump would get along.