FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A former Springdale state senator who was indicted in a fraud scheme in March pleaded not guilty to fraud charges during a U.S. District Court arraignment hearing on Monday (April 24).
Woods’ attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on Monday morning.
The indictment also named the president of Ecclesia College in Springdale, Oren Paris III, and an Alma man, Randell G. Shelton Jr. Both entered not guilty pleas on Monday.
In January, State Representative Micah Neal pleaded guilty to one count of honest services fraud.
The purposes of the fraud scheme outlined in the lengthy indictment state that:
- Woods and Neal sought to enrich themselves “by soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for using their official positions as Arkansas legislators to direct GIF monies” to two different entities, identified as Entity A and C;
- Paris sought to enrich himself, his family, and Entity A, by “paying bribes to Woods and Neal through Shelton”; and
- Shelton sought to enrich himself by “keeping a portion of the bribe funds paid to Woods and Neal.”
- The activity took place between 2013 and 2015 and included GIF monies totaling $600,000 over the course of the alleged illegal efforts.
Woods, Paris and Shelton will go to trail May 8, and their next hearing is set for May 3.
Woods and Paris were released on a $10,000 bond and Shelton was released on a $5,000 bond.