Stephen Walker Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

by Mark Friedman  on Friday, Jul. 20, 2012 4:20 pm  

Stephen R. Walker, the former COO for Phoenix Renewable Energy of Hot Springs, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Friday afternoon in connection with a tax evasion of assessment charge.

The 45-year-old also will have to pay $257,566 in restitution for the taxes he owed and spend three years on probation once he's released, according to Conner Eldridge, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Walker faced a five count indictment in 2010, but pleaded guilty in March 2011 to the one count and the other counts were dismissed. He then waited more than 16 months before he was sentenced.

On Wednesday, Walker's attorney, J. Blake Hendrix of Little Rock, argued that Walker should be sentenced to less time than the recommendation of the sentencing guideline, which was 12 months to 18 months.

Hendrix said in the filing that Walker suffered from a bipolar disorder.

He also said the Walker attempted suicide in the fall of 2003 and was treated in 2004.

"This is the same time frame as the beginning of the erratic conduct that resulted in the present indictment," Hendrix said.  

In addition, Walker became addicted to pain pills in 2003 and it continued until 2005, he said. "This mental health issue and addiction affected Mr. Walker's ability to make sound, rational judgments and mitigate his offenses," he said.

Hendrix also added that Walker has been "fully cooperative with the IRS" and helped provided investigators with documents and information.  

According to the indictment, in 2005, Walker earned about $310,000 and owed nearly $90,000 in taxes, but he never filed a return.

Walker's tax charges occurred before he began working for Phoenix, a company that promised to bring a wood pellet plant to Camden but didn't.

Since March, Walker has been in the jail in Garland County in connection with a prior theft conviction.



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