Dr. Ben Burris, an orthodontist who formerly lived in Fayetteville, has been charged with bribing former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, who has already admitted receiving the bribes.
Burris, 47, now lives in Windermere, Florida. He was indicted Monday by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas in a case being prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fort Smith and the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section.
The 20-page indictment spells out 14 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Between February 2014 and November 2016, prosecutors say Burris paid Hutchinson's law firm approximately $157,500 plus gifts.
"Hutchinson, in return, used his official position as a state senator to draft and file legislation to amend a law restricting dental practices that Burris wanted to change," according to a press release announcing the charges. "In addition, Hutchinson advised and influenced members of the Arkansas Department of Human Services to expedite the approval of Medicaid applications for physician employees of Burris’s clinics."
Hutchinson, 45, pleaded guilty on June 25 to a single count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery in a case transferred from the Western District to the Eastern District, where he also pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. He has not yet been sentenced.