Stephen Walker Sentenced, This Time for Bank Fraud

A Hot Spring businessman previously convicted of theft and tax evasion was sentenced Friday to 41 months in federal prison for bank fraud.

Stephen R. Walker was indicted last August and pleaded guilty in November to misusing $423,000 from an Arvest Bank loan. U.S. District Judge Larry Jimm Hendren of Fayetteville ordered Walker's sentence to run consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving: seven years on a theft of property conviction in Garland County.

Walker was also sentenced last July to 18 months in federal prison for tax evasion. Both of the federal charges date back to 2005, when Walker had a shopping center development business called Renaissance Development LLC.

In the bank fraud case, Walker admitted to fabricating construction invoices in order to make draws on a construction loan from Arvest that was supposed to pay for building a shopping center in Broken Arrow, Okla. The construction work was never done.

"Prosecuting federal crimes involving fraud rmains a top priority in the Western District of Arkansas," U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge said in a press release. "We will continue to be vigilant in pursuing those who commit fraud regardless of the type of scheme criminals employ."

After Renaissance, Walker was chief operating officer for another Hot Springs company, Phoenix Renewable Energy. Among other things, Phoenix announced plans in 2009 to build a wood pellet plant at Camden that never materialized.