Nonprofit head sentenced to 30 months in corruption probe


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The former head of a defunct Arkansas nonprofit that helped at-risk youth was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison for diverting more than $120,000 from the group to an unnamed state senator in a widening corruption probe that has ensnared several former lawmakers.U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey sentenced Jerry Walsh, 72, who pleaded guilty in 2018 conspiring to divert more than $380,000 from South Arkansas Youth Services without the authority of the organization’s board of directors. Federal prosecutors say the scheme involved diverting the money to a state senator identified only as “Arkansas Senator C” and the lobbying firm of Rusty Cranford, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to bribing three former lawmakers.

Hickey also ordered Walsh to pay more than $515,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said Walsh hired the state senator, who is also an attorney, in 2013 and paid him in the form of retainers and legal fees but with the expectation he would not perform any legal work. Walsh also admitted to paying Cranford’s lobbying firms above-market prices and giving a relative of Cranford’s a “no-show” job where they weren’t expected to perform any work.

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