Little Rock Lawyer Pleads Guilty in USDA Fraud Case

Little Rock Lawyer Pleads Guilty in USDA Fraud Case

A Little Rock lawyer has pleaded guilty to his involvement in an alleged scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture out of more than $11.5 million.

Everett Martindale, 75, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He admitted to acting as the legal representative for several women who filed false claims to obtain funds from programs meant to help minority farmers.

Authorities said that Martindale signed certifications that said he investigated the claims, when, in fact, he did not. The proceeds from those claims were mailed to Martindale, and he took a portion of the money as an attorney’s fee.

Martindale had been set for trial Aug. 30.

He's the final defendant to enter a plea in the case. Four sisters each pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to defraud the Internal Revenue Service: Lynda Charles, 72, of Hot Springs; Rosie Bryant, 74, of Colleyville, Texas; Delois Bryant, 75, of North Little Rock; and Brenda Sherpell, 72, of Gainesville, Texas.

Niki Charles, 49, who is the daughter of Lynda Charles, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Her role in the scheme was notarizing affidavits that she knew to be false and soliciting people to file false claims, authorities reported.

Jerry Green, a tax preparer, pleaded guilty in the case in January 2021. He admitted to falsifying tax returns, resulting in failure to report over $4.6 million to the IRS. 

The scheme ran from 2008-2017 and involved 192 claims, almost all of which were successful.

The seven defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

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