UPDATE: Federal Judge P.K. Holmes this morning sentenced former Republican Sen. Jake Files to 18 months in prison for scheming to divert state money into his own pocket and his failing construction company.
That’s less than the government originally suggested, more than the defense had asked.
40/29 reports that Files got 18 months for wire fraud and 18 months for money laundering. He also was sentenced to 18 months for bank fraud. The sentences are to be served concurrently. In the federal prison, you get scant time off for good behavior, meaning he’ll serve most of the sentence, though the final portion is often served in community-based halfway houses.
He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after completing the sentence.
The government had asked for a 24-month term, at the high end possible for the charge to which Files pleaded guilty. He must report
The sentence includes restitution of $83,903, with interest waived, and the judge set this requirement:
Until the financial penalties are paid in full, defendant shall not incur any new debt nor establish any bank or credit accounts unless receiving prior approval from the U.S. Probation Office, and shall make any information concerning his financial status available to the U.S. probation officer upon request.
Here’s what the government had said before today’s sentencing:
Jake C. Files abused his senate office to personally enrich himself. He did so by executing a scheme to defraud the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District and the City of Fort Smith, thereby breaching the trust that his constituents placed in him. To further conceal his fraud, Files laundered the ill-gotten proceeds through a bank account that he asked an associate to open for the sole purpose of receiving the fraudulent funds, and engaged in monetary transactions in excess of $10,000 of fraudulent proceeds. Lastly, Files defrauded yet another bank by pledging collateral that he no longer owned. Files committed these crimes not in a temporary lapse of judgment or in a moment of weakness; he committed them in deliberate fashion with premeditation, calculation, and purpose.
It said Files deserved a stiff sentence “in light of defendant’s conduct and the egregious breach of the public’s trust.”
In court, according to the Fort Smith Time-Record:
Reading from a prepared statement in court Monday before Holmes announced the sentence, Files apologized for “abusing the public trust” and said he felt “tremendous” guilt for his actions that have led to the loss of his home, his business and made it “incredibly difficult to find work in anything.” Files also said press coverage of his crimes have taken a mental toll on him and his family and he had received “emails of hatred.”
Holmes responded that all of the cases that come before his bench involve someone who has put their family in jeopardy, and Files was no exception. The judge mentioned several cases in which defendants sought mercy from the court by using their family as a reason for leniency.
James Pierce, Files’ attorney with the Public Defenders Office, argued that Files “is not special” and should be sentenced the same as any other person charged with the same crimes. Holmes said Files should be held to a higher responsibility as someone in a position of public trust and because of that is “certainly in a separate class of white-collar criminals.”
Files, whose construction business cratered leaving a failed local parks project among its victims, was represented by a public defender. He argued some technical points, including
Mr. Files has no prior criminal history, and has never been arrested. He is a true “first-time offender.” As will be discussed in more detail below, these characteristics (among others) indicate that he is very likely to live a law-abiding life from this point
The defense sentencing memorandum didn’t mention an ongoing review of an $80,000 wire transfer Files received from a nursing home executive around the time he was advocating a constitutional amendment backed by the nursing home industry to make it harder to sue negligent nursing homes. The transfer has never been explained.