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Guilty Plea in Arkansas Kickbacks Case

Springdale college president changes plea, case also involved 2 former lawmakers

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) -- New details have emerged in the Ecclesia College case involving a former state senator and two other men. 

Ecclesia College President, Oren Paris III, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to kickback charges after previously maintaining his innocence.

Paris pleaded guilty to Count 2 of the Second Superseding Indictment. Officials say there is a plea agreement. 

Paris, along with former State Sen. Jon Woods and consultant Randall Shelton, Jr., was accused of funneling state money into an account at Ecclesia College in Springdale.

In turn, Woods and Paris would receive kickbacks from the school. 

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges former State Rep. Micah Neal and Woods took kickbacks totaling almost $550,000 in state grants directed to Ecclesia College.

Shelton is listed in the indictment as part of a consulting company that was used to pay and conceal the kickbacks.

In December, a defense attorney for Paris filed paperwork for the case to be dismissed. The dismissal documents state quote "What we have before us is clear, willful destruction of evidence." A judge ruled the request for dismissal was not granted.

Woods trial is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on April 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Click here to read more on the Woods case.


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