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story.lead_photo.caption Milton "Rusty" Cranford

SPRINGDALE -- Indicted lobbyist Milton R. "Rusty" Cranford will face additional federal charges, according to a motion filed Thursday by his attorney.

Cranford awaits trial in federal court in Missouri on one count of conspiracy and eight counts of accepting bribes.

He also was named in two guilty pleas and one trial conviction of former Arkansas lawmakers. In each case, Cranford paid kickbacks in return for state grants, according to court testimony and documents.

Cranford lived in Bentonville before his arrest in February and has remained in custody in the Greene County, Mo., jail since.

"The government has informed Mr. Cranford that it intends to file a superseding indictment in the near future," said a motion to delay the trial filed by Cranford's attorney, Nathan Garrett of Kansas City, Mo. "The superseding indictment will include additional charges against Mr. Cranford" and will be accompanied by a substantial amount of new evidence that must be examined, the motion said.

Cranford is set for trial June 11. The motion asks for a delay to at least Aug. 20. The motion said rescheduling isn't opposed by the government. Garrett had no comment as of midday Friday. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Missouri said the office doesn't contradict the statement in Garrett's motion. He declined further comment.

Former Arkansas lawmakers convicted on separate counts of accepting bribes from Cranford while in office in 2013 are former state Rep. Micah Neal of Springdale, former state Sen. Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV of Pine Bluff and former state Sen. Jon Woods, also of Springdale.

Neal and Wilkins pleaded guilty to one conspiracy charge each. Neal pleaded Jan. 3, 2017, in federal court in Fayetteville. Wilkins entered his plea April 30 in Little Rock. Woods was convicted of 15 counts May 3 in federal court in Fayetteville. Most of Woods' counts came from another kickback scheme that did not involve Cranford.

Cranford has not been charged with any crimes in Arkansas.

A business partner of Cranford's also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count in February. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne, a former state representative and lobbyist, pleaded guilty in Missouri in an embezzlement scheme. Cooper and Cranford took money from their then-employer and client, Preferred Family Healthcare of Springfield, Mo., according to Cooper's guilty plea. Cranford's charges in Missouri stem from the same scheme as Cooper's, court records show.

All four of the lawmakers convicted for crimes involving Cranford are awaiting sentencing. Neal, Wilkins and Cooper are cooperating with the government, according to court records.

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State Desk on 05/19/2018

Print Headline: Ex-lobbyist faces additional counts

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