West Memphis City Council Member Pleads Guilty to Bribery

A former member of the West Memphis City Council who was also a juvenile probation officer in Crittenden County admitted Wednesday that he was part of a scheme to bribe Steven Jones, the former legislator who was deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Phillip W. Carter waived his right to be indicted by a federal grand jury and instead pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy.

Jones pleaded guilty to accepting bribes nearly a year ago and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 8.

According to the narrative by federal prosecutors (PDF), Carter was an associate of a West Memphis pastor, identified only as Person A, who conspired with a provider of juvenile mental health facilities to bribe Jones.  

The provider is identified in court documents as Person C, the owner of Company A and Company B; DHS has identified the provider as Ted Suhl, owner of Trinity Behavior Healthcare at Warm Springs (Randolph County) and other behavioral treatment facilities.

Suhl has not been charged with any crime.

Carter admitted that he helped funnel payments from Person C (that is, Suhl) to Jones. According to prosecutors, Person C would write checks to Person A's church, then Person A would take cash from the church accounts and give it to Carter to give to Jones.

The object of the bribes was to induce Jones "to take official action to benefit" Suhl and his companies, according to court documents. Transcripts of phone calls between Carter and Jones were included in the charge.