Arkansas state senator Jeremy Hutchinson resigns after wire and tax fraud indictment

Some lawmakers said Senator Jeremy Hutchinson is unfit to serve after being tied to a federal bribery investigation. (KATV Photo)

A state senator indicted on 12 counts, including wire and tax fraud, resigned from his position Friday within the Arkansas Senate.

A federal grand jury indicted Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, 44, in a scheme to steal campaign contributions and falsify finance reports and tax filings, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland for the Eastern District of Arkansas announced Friday.

Hutchinson, who has served as a state senator since 2011, faces eight counts of wire fraud for spending the campaign funds on personal expenses and falsifying campaign reports and four counts of filing false tax returns from 2011 to 2014.

"In light of these regrettable circumstances, Mr. Hutchinson intends to resign from the Arkansas Senate," Hutchinson's attorneys said. "His resignation is not an admission of wrongdoing nor should he be forced to resign because of an allegation. He is doing so simply to allow the people’s business in the State Capitol to go forward without unnecessary distraction."

"It has been the greatest honor of my life to represent the people in my Senate district," Hutchinson said. "I worked very hard to serve all of my constituents, and I appreciate the many gestures of support I have received from friends, neighbors and colleagues over recent weeks. Nobody would want to find themselves in my present position, but I intend to defend myself and offer truthful evidence to a jury as soon as possible. I do not agree with decisions that have led us to this place, but I am powerless to control those decisions. However, I continue to believe in our system of justice and will trust that it will produce a fair and just result in this case."

Gov. Asa Hutchison, the senator's uncle, says while his heart aches for the family in the wake of the indictment, "As a political leader, I know the United States Attorney always reminds the public that these charges are only allegations and he is presumed innocent, but the reality is that the charges alone undermine public confidence in our system of government. For that reason, Jeremy understands he needs to resign from the Senate, and I support that decision. He will need to devote his resources and energy in answering these allegations."

The Democratic Party of Arkansas chairman also called on Hutchinson to resign following the indictment.

“Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson should immediately resign from the Arkansas Senate," said Chairman and Rep. Michael John Gray. "Today’s indictment reveals that he is clearly unfit to serve in elected office. Just as I called on Rep. Mikey Gates to resign, any state official indicated on criminal charges must resign because they cannot effectively represent their constituents.

The Republican Party of Arkansas chairman, Doyle Webb, released a statement following the indictment.

“The keystone of any political office is the preservation of public trust. While we will always defend the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, it is my hope that Senator Jeremy Hutchinson’s decision to resign his position immediately will help restore the confidence of all Arkansas voters.”

He is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris on September 18.

Hiland says wire fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. The tax fraud charges carry a maximum of three years in prison, a $100,000 find along with the costs of prosecution, and one year of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.

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