According to the United States Department of Justice, Benjamin Gray Burris, 47, of Windermere, Florida and former Arkansas State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson devised a plan in which Burris hired Hutchinson as his “lawyer” in order to pay him for backing legislation to benefit his orthodontist companies in the state.
Burris was charged Monday with 14 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Duane Kees.
Between February 2014 and November 2016, Burris paid Hutchinson through Hutchinson’s law firm approximately $157,500 and provided Hutchinson with free orthodontic services for his family and the use of a private plane to travel to a college football game, according to the USDOJ.
Hutchinson used his position as a state senator to vote for or against, draft or create legislation to benefit Burris and his companies. Hutchinson also 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.
On June 25, 2019, Hutchinson, 45, of Little Rock, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.
Hutchinson is the son of former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson and the nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement on the indictment saying in part, “I have to look at this sad news as an uncle but also as a political leader in the state. As an uncle, my heart aches for Jeremy’s children and expanded family.”