Arkansas Business' 25 Outlaws, Scoundrels & Posers (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

But a year later, DeHaven emerged from Little Rock's U.S. District Court a free man, acquitted of all charges of alleged conspiracy, bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions.

No stranger to legal action, DeHaven hasn't kept count of the times his business adventures have taken him to the edge while battling with lenders, buyers, bond trustees, partners, bank regulators and others.

Much of that courtroom drama revolved around 3,250 acres in Maumelle that he and partner Michael Todd bought in 1988 for $11.1 million. Residential lots were sold like hot stocks, and the Maumelle Co. office at times resembled a frenzied trading floor.

15. L.J. Davis
You can't let the facts get in the way of a good story, and freelance writer L.J. Davis had a whopper of a story to tell. Davis delved into the world of Arkansas' political and business elite and penned "The Poisoned Rose," published in April 1994 by The New Republic.

Some found the factually challenged piece, which played off real and imagined connections to Little Rock's Rose Law Firm, an entertaining read. Unfortunately, some took it as legitimate reporting, which it wasn't. One Arkansas scribe noted his work "might be the single most inaccurate piece of reporting to be published in a serious journal in a generation."

Davis claimed someone conked him on the noggin while he was staying in Little Rock's Legacy Hotel and implied the unknown assailant made his move because he was getting too close to the truth. It was later reported that Davis had knocked back way too many Valentine's Day martinis, offering an alternative explanation for the knot on his head.

16. Nick Wilson
The transition from the most powerful state senator in Arkansas to federal inmate in Florida began with questions about awarding state contracts without competitive bids. Along the way, there were allegations of kickbacks portrayed as real estate finder's fees – illegal commissions, as it were, since Nick Wilson didn't have a real estate license.

When investigators finished, Wilson was at the center of a 133-count federal grand jury racketeering indictment in April 1999. The Pocahontas legislator resigned from office five months later and received a 70-month sentence for racketeering that overlapped with an earlier 18-month sentence for tax transgressions.

Wilson abandoned efforts to reduce his sentence when prosecutors revealed that he attempted to hide assets and was not truthful.

Joining Wilson in defrauding the state was Mike Todd, Paragould lawyer and former state senator. Todd was sentenced in 2000 to 46 months in prison on two counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering and disbarred.

17. Newton Don Jenkins Sr.
Newton Don Jenkins Sr. of Jonesboro was a fraud conviction waiting to happen when we first reported on his questionable business activities in April 1988.

Eleven years later, a jury made it official by convicting Jenkins of one count of fraud and 25 counts of making false statements to a lending institution. It took the jury less than an hour to return the verdict. Jenkins chose not to testify.



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