Monday, 9 January 2017

Ask And It Shall Be Given

Arkansas State Rep. Micah Neal, Republican.
Asked for and was given $38,000 in bribes.
Evangelical Christian Arkansas Republican pleads guilty in $600K Bible college bribery scheme

A couple of Good Christian principles seem to have motivated evangelical Arkansas Republican State representative, Micah Neal. He appears to subscribe fully to the idea that:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

Although he seems to have forgotten the Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:15), when gathered together in Jesus name with representatives of two 'corporate entities', Rep. Micha Neal asked and it was given. He asked for bribes totalling about $38,000 in return for arranging with an Arkansas state senator for public funds totalling about $600,000 to be transferred into their accounts. His friends and senior members of these 'corporate entities' asked for and were given public funds.

According to Arkansas Department of Justice:

Arkansas State Representative Pleads Guilty to Bribe Conspiracy

An Arkansas state representative pleaded guilty today to conspiring to authorize and direct a total of $600,000 in state government funds to two non-profit entities in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in kickback payments, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser of the Western District of Arkansas.

Micah Neal, 42, of Springdale, Arkansas, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks of the Western District of Arkansas to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

As part of his guilty plea, Neal admitted that, between January 2013 and January 2015, while serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives, he conspired with an Arkansas state senator to use their official positions to appropriate government money known as General Improvement Funds (GIF) to a pair of non-profit entities in exchange for bribes. Specifically, Neal and the senator authorized and directed the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, which was responsible for disbursing the GIF, to award a total of $600,000 in GIF money to the two non-profit entities. Of the $600,000, Neal personally authorized and directed a total of $175,000 to the entities. In return for his official actions, Neal received approximately $38,000 in bribes from officials at those non-profit entities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service investigated the case. Trial Attorney Sean Mulryne of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and U.S. Attorney Elser and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner of the Western District of Arkansas are prosecuting the case.

Of the two 'entities' mentioned in the plea bargain agreement between Neal and the Department of Justice, 'Entity B' is described as 'a non-profit corporation operating a college located in Springdale, Arkansas, in the Western District of Arkansas.' 'Person B' was 'the president of Entity B and a friend of Senator A.'

The non-profit evangelical Christian college, Ecclesia, of Springdale, Arkansas, vigorously denies any wrong-doing. It's president, Dr. Oren Paris III, a friend of Micah Neal, published an open letter on Facebook in which he said:

I can unequivocally state that neither I nor Ecclesia College have been party to illegal activity. We have never been a party to any agreements to funnel money to any state legislator...

Sentencing has been deferred to a later date. The maximum penalty Neal facesis a $250,00 fine and 20 years in custody. As a first offender, and having pleaded guilty, it is likely that Neal will be dealt with far more leniently.

It can but be hoped that, should 'Person B' be called as a witness in this or any future case, he will remember that, as a devout Christian, he must avoid bearing false witness to the court.

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