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Rogers Fishing Guide Sentenced For Embezzling Social Security Benefits

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Rogers fishing guide was sentenced Wednesday (June 12) to one year in jail and ordered to pay restitution for embezzling more than $120,000 in Social Security disability funds.

Mike Wayne Bailey, 49, pleaded guilty in January in U.S. District Court to one count of theft of government funds, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed charges of concealment of material fact and making false statements to the government.

Bailey’s prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.

Judge Tim Brooks also ordered Bailey to amend past tax returns related to his offense and barred him from incurring any new debut until he’s paid off the restitution.

Prosecutors said Bailey stole about $123,181 in benefits, which are paid to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last one year or result in death, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

Bailey first applied for the benefits in 2003 but was denied. He appealed the decision, got evaluated by a different doctor and was approved to receive benefits in 2005.

In 2008, however, he applied for a resident fishing guide license from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and subsequently went to work as a fishing guide, court documents show.

Last spring, Bailey told two undercover officers he had been a self-employed fishing guide since 2010, often making three to four trips per week.

The officers said they observed Bailey work as a fishing guide for more than four hours, noting that he completed “many tasks that he claimed he was unable to do” while “exhibiting a degree of mental acuity inconsistent wit his proclaimed mental limitations, according to court documents.

Bailey was required to notify the U.S. Social Security Administration if his condition improved or returned to work. Prosecutors said Bailey claimed as of July 2017 he hadn’t worked in 12 years.

Bailey’s defense attorney said his client never intended to defraud the SSA, but his occupation as a fishing guide evolved organically after some friends asked him to take some out-of-town visitors out on Beaver Lake.

They said Bailey, who has underdone intense back surgery, continued to work through his pain, which included several hours of community service to keep kids off of drugs through fishing.

Bailey is free on bond but must self-surrender to authorities on July 15.

Bernie Sanders urges Walmart to boost ‘starvation wages’
FILE PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) campaigns during a SEIU California Democratic Delegate Breakfast in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

ROGERS, Ark. (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Wednesday told Walmart Inc shareholders and top executives that the world’s largest retailer should boost the “starvation”-level wages it pays its workers and stop fueling income inequality.

Speaking at Walmart’s shareholder meeting, the U.S. senator said: “Despite the incredible wealth of Walmart’s owners” the company pays “starvation wages.”

He presented a shareholder proposal asking the company to give hourly employees a seat on its board and raise base wages to $15 an hour.

Walmart’s “wages are so low, many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive,” Sanders said.

“The American people are so tired of subsidizing the greed of some of the largest corporations in the United States,” he added.

Sanders had three minutes to present and make comments. His remarks at the meeting drew attention to his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination as well as to the drive for higher hourly U.S. wages, one of his signature issues.

The proposal, filed by Walmart worker Carolyn Davis, was buried at the end of the annual proxy filing. It had no chance of passing since a majority of shares are owned by the family of the founder, the late Sam Walton, and the retailer has asked shareholders to vote against it.

Sanders also complained that “Walmart’s CEO is making a thousand times more than the average Walmart employee.”

Walmart’s CEO received a 423.6 million pay package last year. The ratio compared with that of the median associate was 1,076 to 1.

Protesters gathered outside the meeting, many from the labor group “United for Respect” which has pushed for a worker presence on Walmart’s board. They held signs supporting Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign and calling for a $15 per hour U.S. minimum wage.

“What do we want? 15. When do we want it? Now!” the protesters chanted as Sanders briefly addressed workers and the media in a parking lot outside the meeting.

Final results of the vote were expected later in the afternoon.

Walmart has raised its minimum wage twice since 2016 to $11 an hour, still lower than the $15 an hour that rival Amazon.com Inc pays employees. Retailers Target Corp and Costco Wholesale Corp also pay higher rates than Walmart.

Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said Walmart has raised wages in the United States by 50 percent in the past four years and continues to increase wages on a market-by-market basis to hire and retain talent. He also urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, calling the current minimum of $7.25 an hour “too low.”

“We are not perfect, but together we are learning, we are listening and changing,” he said.

Walmart has said it pays an average of $17.50 an hour to its hourly employees, including benefits.

Last year, Sanders introduced the Stop Walmart Act, a bill that would prevent large companies from buying back stock unless they pay all employees at least $15 an hour.

FILE PHOTO: The Walmart logo in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The U.S. Senator has also backed campaigns to push Amazon and Disney to raise their minimum wages, an issue that has found support with all Democratic candidates running for the presidential nomination.

Walmart, which employs nearly 1.5 million Americans and is the largest U.S. private-sector employer, drew sharp criticism from labor groups and unions when it changed the format of its annual meeting last year, splitting it into two separate events.

The business meeting at which Sanders spoke is now held a few days before the big shareholder event, which draws thousands of employees. This year and the year before, the company rushed through shareholder proposals at the business meeting, which had a fraction of the attendees, in less than 30 minutes.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Rogers, Arkansas; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Deputies Arrest Rogers Man Linked To Fayetteville Sex Crimes

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — Washington County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a Rogers man linked to two separate complaints of rape and sexual assault on Dickson Street.

Abhey Mendoza-Anaya, 37, was arrested Wednesday (June 5) in connection with rape, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree battery, theft of property and interference with emergency communication.

Two women told Fayetteville police Mendoza-Anaya tried to rape them after offered them rides on Dickson Street, according to a probable cause affidavit.

One woman said she was leaving a nightclub on April 6 when Mendoza-Anaya approached her in a yellow Ford Mustang and said he could give her a ride.

She agreed to get in, but was immediately accosted by Mendoza-Anaya, who tried to force himself on her sexually, according to the affidavit.

She said Mendoza-Anaya took her phone and threw her out of the car before speeding off.

About a month later, another woman on Dickson Street said she requested a Lyft and mistakenly got into Mendoza-Anaya’s car.

She said she passed out and awoke to Mendoza-Anaya sexually assaulting her. She said Mendoza-Anaya also tried to climb over the center console but she managed to fight him off.

Fayetteville police matched Mendoza-Anaya to the women’s descriptions and used surveillance video from a nearby business that captured a yellow Ford Mustang in the area around the time of he alleged incidents.

Mendoza-Anaya told police he gave rides to both women, but described one as “super drunk,” adding that one of the encounters was consensual, according to the affidavit.

Mendoza-Anaya was being held Wednesday at the Washington County Detention Center on a $250,000 bond a hold for federal court.

He has a hearing July 10 in Washington County Circuit Court.

Rogers Police Believe Missing Girl Could Be In Fayetteville

ROGERS (KFSM) — Police are still looking for a 7-year-old girl last seen getting off the bus in the 1600 block of West Persimmon Street.

Audrey Grantham was with her non-custodial mother, Miranda Turner, and the pair haven’t been seen since May 22.

Police believe they could be in the Fayetteville area.

Anyone with more information is urged to call Rogers police at 479-636-4141.

Police said Audrey has no known medical conditions. She is about four feet tall with brown hair and green eyes.

Turner, 24, is 5-foot-1 with blonde and black hair.

Turner pleaded guilty in 2017 to two counts of third-degree domestic battery.

She was given a year of probation and ordered to attend anger management classes.

Lincoln Man Killed In Crash In Benton County

ROGERS (KFSM) — A Lincoln man died in a single-vehicle crash Monday (May 27) on Arkansas 12.

Matthew Nolen, 34, was killed after his 2018 Honda left the roadway around 4:21 p.m. near Townsends Ridge Road and struck an embankment.

Weather was clear at the time of the accident and the road was dry, according to police.

Rogers Woman Accused Of Raping Another Woman

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — A Rogers woman was arrested last week for allegedly raping another woman.

Kersha Renee Johnson, 41, was arrested in connection with rape, a Class Y felony.

The woman said she received a call for help from Johnson and arrived to find Johnson inside her home naked and crying, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The woman said she tried to console Johnson, who then pulled her top off and grabbed her breasts. The woman said Johnson then grabbed her crotch before she was able to pull away.

The woman left and went home but said Johnson later showed up unannounced and exposed her self.

The woman got Johnson out of her home and called the police.

Johnson at first denied touching the woman, but later admitted to groping her breasts and vagina, according to the affidavit. Johnson, however, told investigators the woman wanted to be touched.

Johnson was being held Wednesday (May 22) at the Benton County Jail on a $150,000 bond. She’s due in Benton County Circuit Court on June 25.

A judge ordered Johnson to have no contact with the woman.

In Arkansas, Class Y felonies are punishable by up to life in prison.

Rogers Woman Admits To Embezzling From Law Firm, Clients

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Rogers woman admitted to embezzling nearly $20,000 from a Springdale law firm by intercepting payments from clients and forging court documents to cover her tracks.

Monserrate Morales, 29, pleaded guilty Monday (May 20) in U.S. District Court to one count each of wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud.

Morales told federal investigators she stole roughly $18,961 by intercepting payments from clients to the McManus Law Firm, where she worked as a receptionist between 2012 and 2018.

Morales would steal cash payments from clients that were intended as legal fees to the firm, according to court documents.

She also forged court documents, bankruptcy documents and, in one case, a federal judge’s signature, to help conceal the scheme from attorneys and clients.

Investigators noted that for one client, Morales took their money despite no legal work taking place. Morales told the client their file was “almost done” and should be filed “this month once funds are paid i(n) full,” according to court documents.

During her six years at the law firm, Morales also forged a Benton County circuit judge’s divorce decree, intercepted child support payments and forged bankruptcy documents for potential clients.

Morales is free on a $5,000 bond but is restricted to traveling within Benton, Madison and Washington counties. She also had to turn over her passport.

She faces up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. A sentencing hearing hasn’t been set.

Morales is charged for the same offenses in Washington County Circuit Court, where she faces felony counts of first-degree forgery, one count of second-degree forgery, theft of property and tampering with physical evidence.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a hearing is set for July 15.

Gov. Hutchinson’s Son Arrested For DUI

ROGERS, Ark.—Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s son was arrested in Rogers this morning (May 18).

According to police, a traffic stop at 46th Street and New Hope Road led to the arrest of Asas Hutchinson III.

He was arrested and taken to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, where he was held until he was sober.

There is no record of a booking photo being taken according to jail employees.

This is not the first time Hutchinson III has been arrested for similar offenses.

In 2018 and 2016 he was arrested for DWI, and was arrested for possession of a controlled substance at a music festival in 2016.