The former Fayetteville orthodontist charged with bribing former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson now has a trial date of Oct. 13 in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
Dr. Ben Burris, who now lives in Florida, is facing 14 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.
His court date was tentatively set for Sept. 8, but his trial date could have been bumped if another case went to trial. Burris’ attorneys and prosecutors asked for a date that they knew wouldn’t be moved.
“The parties state that setting trial for a date certain will facilitate planning and scheduling efforts for the defendant and out-of-town attorneys (for both sides), as well as government and defense witnesses,” the joint motion said.
U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks agreed and set the case for a 9 a.m. start time.
“No additional continuances will be granted except on a finding of truly extraordinary good cause,” Brooks wrote.
Hutchinson, who is the nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has already admitted receiving the bribes. No sentencing date had been set as of Thursday.
Burris’ spokesman told Whispers in August that “Dr. Burris has long been a tireless advocate for improving patient well-being and increasing access to dental care. We are disappointed that the government has chosen to disregard clear and compelling evidence that undermines these charges, and we plan to mount a forceful defense.”
Burris’ defense team are attorneys William Athanas and Charles Prueter of the firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis of Birmingham, Alabama; Laura Hoey of the Chicago firm Ropes & Gray; and Shane Mitchell Wilkinson of the Wilkinson Law Firm in Bentonville.
Burris is being prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fort Smith and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section.