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Press Release

Owner Of Arkansas Juvenile Mental Health Facilities Indicted On Bribery Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas

WASHINGTON—The owner of two Arkansas mental health companies that provide inpatient and outpatient mental health services to juveniles was indicted yesterday for 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.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Arkansas returned the six-count indictment on Dec. 2, 2015, charging Theodore E. Suhl, 50, of Warm Springs, Arkansas, with conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, three counts of honest services fraud, one count federal funds bribery and one count of interstate travel in aid of bribery.

The indictment alleges that Suhl bribed Steven B. Jones, former deputy director of ADHS, to perform acts in his official capacity that benefitted Suhl and his mental health companies and to provide internal ADHS information to Suhl. Beginning in approximately April 2007, Suhl, Jones and Phillip W. Carter, a former probation officer in Crittenden County, Arkansas, and a West Memphis, Tennessee, councilmember, allegedly periodically met at restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee, and rural Arkansas in order for Suhl to request assistance from Jones. In exchange for Jones’ agreement to perform official acts, Suhl allegedly paid Jones by issuing checks made payable to the pastor of Carter’s church that Carter and the pastor then deposited and cashed in order to provide cash payments to Jones.

Jones previously pleaded guilty to federal funds bribery and conspiracy for his involvement in the scheme. Carter previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery and honest services wire fraud. Jones and Carter currently await sentencing.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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

Updated December 7, 2015

Public Corruption