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Press Release

Owner of Juvenile Mental Health Facilities Convicted in Bribery Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The owner of two Arkansas mental health companies that provide inpatient and outpatient mental health services to juveniles was found guilty yesterday of engaging in a scheme to bribe a former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS), announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

Theodore E. Suhl, 50, of Warm Springs, Arkansas, was convicted by a federal jury of two counts of honest services fraud, one count of federal funds bribery and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery.  

The evidence presented at trial showed that Suhl bribed former deputy director of ADHS, Steven B. Jones, using intermediaries Phillip W. Carter and a local pastor.  Trial evidence demonstrated that beginning in approximately April 2007, Suhl, Jones and Carter periodically met at restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee, or in rural Arkansas in order for Suhl to request assistance for his companies from Jones in his capacity as deputy director of ADHS.  Jones agreed to perform official acts that benefitted Suhl and Suhl’s businesses and provided internal ADHS information to Suhl, according to evidence presented at trial.  The trial evidence also showed that, in exchange for Jones’s agreement to perform official acts, Suhl paid Jones by funneling cash payments through the pastor’s church and providing the bribe payments to Jones in cash so that the transactions would not be easily traceable.    

Jones pleaded guilty to federal funds bribery and conspiracy for his involvement in the scheme and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.  Carter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery and honest services wire fraud and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

The FBI’s Little Rock Field Office investigated the case.  Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell, John D. Keller and Amanda R. Vaughn of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

Updated November 6, 2019

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 16-850