ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KNWA) — Former Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III who was involved in a kickback scheme is back in court Friday.
In 2018, Paris was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud charges involving a kickback scheme that diverted funds to Ecclesia College from the state’s general improvement fund.
His co-conspirators, former State Senator Jon Woods and consultant Randell Shelton, were also convicted and are serving time in federal prison.
Paris was back in court Friday after a conditional guilty plea let him appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals out of St. Louis.
His attorney, Travis Story in Fayetteville, argued before three judges at the 8th Circuit Friday morning, claiming evidence in Paris’ favor was destroyed.
“We argued that because of the FBI agent intentionally deleting and destroying the contents of the laptop, because he did that in bad faith and destroyed evidence that was potentially useful to doctor Paris’ defense, that that should in and of itself result in dismissal…in an indictment against Dr. Paris. The result of which is the conditional plea is unwound and that Dr. Paris would not have a felony record or any charges left against him,” Story said.
Paris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in federal court in April 2018. He paid kickbacks to Woods and State Representative Micah Neal in exchange for grants to Ecclesia College from 2013 to 2015.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the grants totaled over $700,000.
Of that, $500,000 came from Woods and Neal.
Story says the 8th Circuit will issue a written decision about the appeal within 90 days.