Week in Review 2-11 to 2-18

Parole denied for Scroggin for second time

A Mountain Home woman, Christina Scoggin, convicted of manslaughter in 2015 in the death of Raul Turrieta, III, has had her parole denied for a second time.

Her second parole hearing request was held Thursday, with the decision released Monday.

A spokesperson for the Arkansas Parole Board says the decision was based on the nature and seriousness of the crime, the crime involving a death, and a weapon being used. These are the same reasons given for Scroggin's parole request denial in 2016.

Scroggin was sentenced to eight years in prison for Turrieta's death. Turrieta was shot to death in 2013 on a remote road in Marion County where the couple stopped on a trip back to Mountain Home from Little Rock.

Scroggin was convicted by a Marion County jury of manslaughter after the state had originally charged her with first-degree murder. An eight-woman, four-man jury rejected that charge and opted instead for the lesser included offense of manslaughter. In these instances juries have the option of finding a person guilty of a lesser included offense if they have reasonable doubt as to guilt in the more serious offense.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery told KTLO, Classic Hits 101.7 and The Boot news in January he and 14th Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Chism planned to testify again against Scroggin's request.

Sheriff Montgomery, Chism and former Marion County Sheriff Joan Vickers were at the 2016 hearing and testified against her release.

Scroggin was moved from the McPherson Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction in Newport in June, 2017 and is now in the custody of the Tucker Re-Entry Center. These centers are set up to assist inmates in re-entering society.

She will have to wait two years before making a further request for parole.

According to online Arkansas Department of Correction records, Scroggin had completed programs in mental health, anger management, domestic violence and parenting since her incarceration.


Local doctor's license suspended following child porn charges

The medical license of a local doctor has been suspended following accusations against him in a child pornography case. According to Andy Davis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Arkansas State Medical Board voted in a conference call meeting Friday to suspend the license of 60-year-old Lee Gibson of Flippin pending a hearing.

Gibson was arrested February 1st and charged with the felony offense of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was released later that afternoon after posting at $50,000 cash bond, and he is ordered to wear an ankle monitor.

In an unusual move, Circuit Judge Gordon Webb sealed the probable cause affidavit and case information at the request of 14th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge.

The Order to Seal Affidavit and Information document indicates the record was sealed on the grounds that if released to the public, it could compromise an ongoing investigation. In addition, the release of said information is sensitive, and it is necessary to withhold this information for a short time to ensure the investigations are not impaired.

Gibson entered a not guilty plea to the felony charge in Baxter County Circuit Court via Skype from the Marion County Detention Center.

Medical board attorney Kevin O'Dwyer says it normally allows doctors facing criminal charges to postpone hearings on their licenses until the charges are resolved, but in the meantime, the doctors' licenses remain suspended. O'Dwyer adds the licensing boards in Missouri and Oklahoma have also been notified of the Arkansas board's actions.


Former local lawmaker pleads guilty in charity scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) _ A former Arkansas state representative has pleaded guilty to his role in an embezzlement scheme involving a Springfield, Missouri-based charity.

Federal prosecutors say 51-year-old Eddie Wayne Cooper of Melbourne pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million from Preferred Family Healthcare.

Prosecutors say Cooper and several executives of the non-profit charity used the embezzled money for political contributions, unreported lobbying and personal expenses.

Cooper, who was an Arkansas state lawmaker from 2006 to January 2011, received at least $387,501 from a lobbying firm and at least $63,000 in kickbacks from the conspiracy. He was ordered Monday to forfeit those gains.

Prosecutors say five additional people, including executives of the charity, are considered co-conspirators but have not been charged in the fraud scheme.


Dillard will not seek re-election as MH mayor, treasurer hired

Another announcement concerning the 2018 election was made during Thursday's meeting of the Mountain Home City Council. Following the state of the city address, Mayor Joe Dillard announced he would not seek re-election to his position.

Dillard has served as mayor of Mountain Home twice. He began his first term as mayor in 1997 and served until 2003. He returned to the mayor's office in 2015.

His career encompasses 40 years of public service, including serving on the Mountain Home School Board, as Baxter County judge, director of the State Office of Emergency Service with an appointment from former Governor Tucker, and regional representative for Congressman Marion Berry.

In other council news, with member Rick Pierce absent, the council gave its unanimous approval to rezoning 519 and 523 Hospital Drive from C-3 to C-2. The location is the planned site for Air Evac Lifeteam's new station and helipad operation now on U.S. Highway 62/412 West. The relocation plan would entail removing homes on these properties.

Without prior discussion, the council moved into executive session to discuss the vacancy in the treasurer’s office. Following the executive session, the council made the recommendation to offer the position to the applicant from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Two bid waiver ordinances were on the docket Thursday night to purchase five trucks, three for the street department and two for the water department. Both ordinances passed without objection. Another bid waiver ordinance from the street department was on the agenda requesting purchase of a GPS Trimble Reference Station. That ordinance also passed without objection. A resolution authorizing the destruction of older records also passed.


Ground breaking planned for new Hospice offices

A new two-story administration building is in the works for Hospice of the Ozarks, with ground breaking planned in the next two to three months. The new facility will be located at the corner of Burnett and Long next to Hospice House.

Hospice of the Ozarks Executive Director Greg Wood says the stage was set for this development about 15 to 20 years ago with some large gifts and donations.



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Wood says last year the board of directors approved the building project.



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Wood says while the gifts and donations from several years ago will cover construction costs, opportunities remain for the community to become involved with the new facility.



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Wood says Hospice House and the new administrative office building are owned by Hospice of the Ozarks, a subsidiary of Baxter Regional Medical Center. Hospice administration currently resides in a BRMC building.

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