Former Arkansas State Senator and State Representative Henry (Hank) Wilkins IV was sentenced Wednesday to 12 months and one day in prison for conspiring to accept over $95,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing Arkansas state legislation and transactions, including steering approximately $245,000 in Arkansas General Improvement funds to his co-conspirators, which included executives at a Missouri-based health care charity.
As part of the conspiracy, Wilkins also admitted to devising a scheme to conceal the bribe payments as donations to St. James United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, where Wilkins also served as a pastor.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian S. Miller sentenced Wilkins on Wednesday. In addition to the federal prison sentence, Miller ordered Wilkins to serve three years of supervised release and repay $123,000 in restitution. Wilkins must report to prison by March 7, 2023.
Wilkins, 68, previously pleaded guilty April 30, 2018, to a federal information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and deprive the citizens of Arkansas of their right to honest services.
According to court documents, Wilkins admitted as part of his plea that from 2010 to 2014, while serving in the Arkansas General Assembly, he accepted a series of bribes from lobbyists and nonprofit organizations that were transmitted both in the form of cash and checks funneled from lobbying firms to a discretionary fund held in St. James’ name where Wilkins had access to the deposited funds.
In exchange for the cash and check bribes, Wilkins performed, and agreed to perform, official acts in his capacity as an Arkansas legislator, including filing shell bills, sponsoring full bills, voting in favor of specific legislation and steering approximately $245,000 in General Improvement funds to entities that funneled bribes to Wilkins through his church.
Several of Wilkins’s co-conspirators, including former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and two executives at the Missouri-based health care charity, pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.