JEREMY HUTCHINSON (far left) leaves court with family members Friday after receiving a sentence of 46 months. Brian Chilson

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday sentenced Jeremy Hutchinson, the former Republican senator, to 46 months in prison.

Hutchinson, son of former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson and nephew of former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has been all over the news in recent years for charges of bribery, submitting false income taxes and being a deadbeat dad who doesn’t pay child support.

Advertisement

Baker set a consecutive sentence of 46 months, which broke down into 18 months for bribery and 28 months for tax fraud. Through his attorney, Timothy Dudley, Hutchinson requested to self report to prison. Baker granted the request. He’s due on March 6, and he requested to be placed in the Texarkana location, though that decision is left for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hutchinson will serve at least three years of supervised release where he will not be allowed to start new credit lines without approval from a probation officer. The officer will also be granted access to Hutchinson’s funds.

Advertisement
Brian Chilson
GOING TO PRISON: Jeremy Hutchinson received his sentence Friday.

Because the case had a restitution attached to it — that means money needs to be paid to victims — the judge also ruled that Hutchinson is to pay $224,497.10 to the state of Arkansas and $131,038 to the IRS. The amounts should start being paid during his incarceration and continue afterward at a rate of 10% of Hutchinson’s monthly income during supervised release. Payments at the same rate for an $11,500 fine to the Arkansas Ethics Commission will also start during the probation period.

The sentencing at the Federal Courthouse lasted for about 2 hours, including an “under seal” period where only the attorneys and judge were allowed in the room to discuss Hutchinson’s cooperation. Attorney Marco Palmieri represented the government’s side.

Advertisement

When arguing sentencing periods, Hutchinson’s attorney requested that the judge consider 12 months and one day. Dudley based this off of what he referred to as the “similar defenses” of the co-conspirators. Dudley said that the initial guideline Baker announced early in the sentencing of 70-87 months was a disparity compared to others who have committed similar crimes. He also argued that Hutchinson has been waiting for four years to hear a sentence, which created struggles for employment and caused him to take jobs with doing yard work, driving for Uber and delivering food orders.

Dudley said that in addition to his employment struggles, Hutchinson has suffered in other ways. He referenced letters that were delivered to the court in support of Hutchinson that were from his family and friends, and also drug addicts, a former U.S. attorney and a man serving life in prison for murder. Dudley glazed over a letter from Hutchinson’s children with his ex-wife Stephanie Anne Hutchinson, which he noted was “a bad situation that stems from divorce.” [CORRECTION: Stephanie Anne Hutchinson reached out after this story was published initially to note that the letter to the court came from her children, not her, as we previously reported.] Overall, Dudley said that Hutchinson is “a good man who made a bad mistake.”

Advertisement
Brian Chilson
PRE-SENTENCING: Jeremy Hutchinson arrives at the Federal Courthouse Friday morning.

Dudley said that as a public official, “getting indicted and convicted is worse than going to prison.” He also said that a longer prison sentence does not deter people from doing crimes. 

Palmieri, representing the government, pushed back against Dudley’s request for a sentence of just a year and a day, a length of time he said was not “appropriate or adequate.” Palmieri also argued that defendants should be held accountable for their choices and that Hutchinson used his privileges as an elected official to carry out schemes. He urged Baker to send Hutchinson to prison for six and a half years.

Advertisement

Upon announcing her sentence, Baker said that she didn’t take the Hutchinson family name into consideration when deciding the sentence. Baker said that she recognized there had been a long delay for sentencing, but noted some of it was the COVID-19 pandemic and no one’s fault. In reference to his family troubles, which have included failure to pay child support but also claims of abandonment, she said, “Any kid needs time and attention, but that doesn’t cost a dime.” She noted that his difficult family situations were not unique to him.

Brian Chilson
ON HIS WAY IN: Hutchinson on his way to court Friday morning.

Baker also said she questioned his efforts at finding work. Though she said she didn’t consider this when determining his sentence, Baker said she sees convicted felons every day who manage to get jobs and support their families.

Advertisement

Further, she said that Hutchinson’s crimes did not stem from him being bad with money, unorganized or unable to file paperwork correctly. “This isn’t a one-time thing you stumbled into,” she said.

Hutchinson faced indictments from three jurisdictions, Eastern and Western Arkansas and also in Missouri. Friday’s sentencing covered the crimes of failing to report income for taxes on money he illegally spent from his campaign account and for taking bribes from an orthodontist to help him with legislation useful to his business. He also faces sentencing for taking bribes from Preferred Family Healthcare to help it in the legislature. He’s pleaded guilty but no sentencing date on that charge has been set.