Windstream Indictment: Arkansas and Oklahoma Laws Compared

Arkansas Law

§5-52-101. Abuse of Public Trust

  • (a) A person commits the offense of abuse of public trust if the person:
  • (1) Solicits, accepts or agrees to accept on behalf of any person, political party or other organization any benefit from another person upon an agreement or understanding that the other person will or may be appointed a public servant or designated or nominated as a candidate for public office;
  • (2) Offers, confers or agrees to confer any benefit and the receipt of the benefit is prohibited by this section;
  • (3) Solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any benefit as compensation or consideration for having as a public servant given a decision, opinion, recommendation or vote favorable to another or for having otherwise exercised his or her discretion in favor of another; or
  • (4) Offers, confers or agrees to confer any benefit upon a public servant and the receipt of the benefit is prohibited by this section.
  • (b) It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or use of discretion, except for the benefit, was otherwise proper.

Abuse of public trust is a Class "D" felony in Arkansas, carrying a possible penalty of up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. In the Oklahoma case, former Broken Arrow School District Superintendent James David Sisney faces up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine; Windstream Corp. of Little Rock could be docked $3,000 if it's found guilty of giving a bribe.

Both parties are also charged with conspiracy against the state, for which Sisney faces another 10 years and $25,000, and Windstream could be fined the same amount. Arkansas also lacks an exact equivalent to the conspiracy charge.

Oklahoma Law

§21-381.  Bribing officers.

Whoever corruptly gives, offers, or promises to any executive, legislative, county, municipal, judicial, or other public officer, or any employee of the State of Oklahoma or any political subdivision thereof, including peace officers and any other law enforcement officer, or any person assuming to act as such officer, after his election or appointment, either before or after he has qualified or has taken his seat, any gift or gratuity whatever, with intent to influence his act, vote, opinion, decision, or judgment on any matter, question, cause, or proceeding which then may be pending, or may by law come or be brought before him in his official capacity, or as a consideration for any speech, work, or service in connection therewith, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years, or by a fine not exceeding Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00) and imprisonment in jail not exceeding one (1) year.

§21??'382.  Officers receiving bribes.

Every executive, legislative, county, municipal, judicial, or other public officer, or any employee of the State of Oklahoma or any political subdivision thereof, including peace officers and any other law enforcement officer, or any person assuming to act as such officer, who corruptly accepts or requests a gift or gratuity, or a promise to make a gift, or a promise to do an act beneficial to such officer, or that judgment shall be given in any particular manner, or upon a particular side of any question, cause or proceeding, which is or may be by law brought before him in his official capacity, or as a consideration for any speech, work, or service in connection therewith, or that in such capacity he shall make any particular nomination or appointment, shall forfeit his office, be forever disqualified to hold any public office, trust, or appointment under the laws of this state, and be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding ten (10) years, or by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and imprisonment in jail not exceeding one (1) year.