Atwood Released From Prison

John Atwood, the former CPA who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $550,000 from USA Drug, was released from state prison Oct. 5 after serving less than a year of a 10-year sentence.

The 38-year-old was sentenced in October 2006 to 10 years and one day for several felonies connected to the theft from USA Drug's parent company, Stephen L. LaFrance Holding Inc. of Pine Bluff. He started serving his time in November 2006.

Even though he has been released from prison, Atwood will remain on parole until April 27, 2012.

And Atwood's legal troubles aren't over. He still is facing a civil lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court by his former employer, who said Atwood's theft and cover-up of the crime turned the company's books into a work of fiction.

LaFrance Holding said it shelled out more than $2.1 million on auditors and other experts to get a true picture of the company finances.

In Agreement

A hearing in the civil case was scheduled on Friday, after our deadline. LaFrance wanted a ruling on its breach-of-contract claim because Atwood had agreed to release his financial records but then allegedly pulled back the offer, according to court records.

Atwood, who is now representing himself, sent a handwritten response to Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey on July 23, saying he didn't renege on the offer. Atwood said that without his knowledge his attorney, John Everett of Fayetteville, had revoked the agreement.

"Atwood believes everything the plaintiff asked for in the financial release agreement was provided to the plaintiff in a very timely manner," Atwood wrote.

He said he wanted to put the agreement back in place.

"Atwood agrees with the plaintiff and has always wanted to mitigate any and all costs associated with this case," he wrote.

Perhaps you were wondering what happened to Lee Reddmann, who was originally charged along with Atwood in Jefferson County. The criminal charges against Reddmann were dropped in October 2006, but he is still named as a defendant in LaFrance's lawsuit.

Reddmann, through attorney Pat James of Little Rock, has in the past denied any wrongdoing.