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Former Arkansas State Senator Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, and Bank Fraud

Former Arkansas State Senator Jake C. Files was sentenced to 18 months in prison for orchestrating a scheme to obtain approximately $46,500 in state government funds through fraudulent means and for obtaining approximately $56,700 in loan proceeds, also through fraudulent means.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Duane A. Kees for the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

Files, 46, of Fort Smith, Arkansas who represented Arkansas’s state legislative district No. 8 in the Arkansas State Senate until his resignation in January 2018 following his guilty plea in this matter, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge P. K. Holmes III of the Western District of Arkansas.  Judge Holmes ordered Files to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence as well as pay restitution in the amount of $83,903.77.  Files was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service to begin serving his sentence on Aug. 2.

Files pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and bank fraud on Jan. 29.  According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, between August 2016 and December 2016, while serving in the Arkansas State Senate, Files used his senate office to obtain government money known as General Improvement Funds (GIF) through fraudulent means and for personal gain.  Specifically, Files authorized and directed the Western Arkansas Economic Development District, which was responsible for administrating the GIF in Files’s legislative district, to award a total of $46,500 in GIF money to the City of Fort Smith.

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To secure the release of the GIF money, Files prepared and submitted three fraudulent bids to the Western Arkansas Economic Development District.  Files then instructed an associate to open a bank account under that person’s name to conceal his role as the ultimate beneficiary of the GIF award.

When a first installment of approximately $25,900 was wire transferred from the City of Fort Smith to the associate’s bank account, the associate withdrew approximately $11,900 of the funds in a cashier’s check made payable to FFH Construction, Files’s construction company, and the rest in cash.  The associate then hand-delivered the check and the cash to Files who, in turn, deposited the check into his personal bank account.

Files also admitted to submitting a materially false loan application in November 2016 in connection with a loan application for approximately $56,700 from First Western Bank.

The FBI investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner of the Western District of Arkansas prosecuted the case.

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