Breaking News
More () »

Former FBI agent avoids prison time after pleading guilty to destroying evidence

Judge PK Holmes ordered Cessario to three years of probation and six months of in-home detention with no location monitoring.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — A former Northwest Arkansas FBI agent was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to destroying evidence in a corruption case involving a former Arkansas state senator.

According to the United States Department of Justice, in August 2022, former FBI Special Agent Robert F. Cessario pleaded guilty to erasing his government laptop hard drive with the intent to impact the outcome of the findings of the investigation. 

On Jan. 5, 2023, he was sentenced to three years probation— avoiding prison time and six months of in-home detention with no location monitoring. He also must pay a $25,000 fine and has to submit to a search of his personal property.

The case that was being investigated was that of Arkansas State Senator Jon Woods, along with two co-defendants. Woods was accused and convicted of corruption-related charges, and has since sought retrials. Woods has served four years of an 18-year sentence.

Cessario had been in the FBI for 18 years with time in Miami, Washington and most recently here in Northwest Arkansas. He told the court on Thursday that he was protecting medical records but should've found another way to handle his personal data.

He faced a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $240,000 fine.

Fort Smith citizens, enraged by the evidence of FBI corruption, called for justice days before the sentencing.

Connie Davies attended protests Tuesday, calling for Cessario to serve prison time. Davies was concerned about former state senator Jon Woods.

"Jon Woods' due process rights were violated because there was evidence that could have been used in his defense. We don't know what was on that computer. And we had the right to know what it was," said Connie Davies.

"This is an FBI agent that knew what he did was wrong. He was in contempt of court. When he was told to turn the computer over for forensic examination. He did not do what he said what he was told to do. He lied to the court, and then he destroyed relevant evidence we believe for the Jon Woods case, to me that deserves a little bit more than three years of probation at home," Davies said.

In 2020, an appeal for Woods's sentence on the basis of the destruction of evidence was denied.


Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out