New details have emerged in the Ecclesia College case involving a former state senator and two other men.
Earlier this year a former State Senator Jon Woods was accused of accepting kickbacks from Ecclesia College, after directing grants to the university.
Now a defense attorney in the case has filed paperwork asking the case to be dismissed after evidence was allegedly wiped from an FBI agents’ computer.
Doug Norwood is a Rogers, AR Attorney at Law. Norwood said, “We have a situation where an officer is not properly handling potentially exculpatory evidence.”
According to Norwood, evidence that appears to have been deleted from an FBI laptop computer could be the reason the case against Woods and two other men, gets dismissed.
“That creates a whole lot of problems and normally judges are really, really not happy to hear stories about how the government has let evidence get destroyed,” said Norwood.
Ecclesia College President, Oren Paris III and consultant Randall Shelton, Jr. are the two other men accused of being involved in the scheme. Court documents we obtained state the FBI laptop had 79 recordings and 52 hours of conversations involving former Springdale Representative Micah Neal who was secretly recording the three men accused.
Those recordings handed over the an FBI special agent. Our documents state quote “Since his access of the drop box folder on November 2 and 3, 2016 the computer had been wiped on several occasions,” causing hiccups in the case.
“The problem is when you start getting into computers and things related to electronic evidence, some of that’s very very complicated and has to be sent off to laboratories,” said Norwood.
On December 18th 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.”
Norwood added, “The judge has the authority to dismiss the indictment. And that’s a rare remedy because these things don’t happen very often. We have that situation I think in this case.”
A defense attorney for Shelton said a judge isn’t likely to rule on the dismissal request before 2018. A jury trial has been scheduled for Woods on April 9th. We reached out to Woods’ attorneys and the FBI for comment but have not heard back.