Benjamin Gray Burris, an orthodontist who owned several businesses that operated orthodontic clinics in Arkansas, has been indicted for perpetrating a bribery and fraud scheme involving former Arkansas State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, according to US Attorney Duane (DAK) Kees for the Western District of Arkansas and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Burris, of Windermere, Florida, was charged in the Western District of Arkansas with 14 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. His arraignment is scheduled for September 11, 2019, in the Western District of Arkansas.
As alleged in the indictment, beginning in or about February 2014, Burris and Hutchinson devised a scheme in which Burris hired and retained Hutchinson as an attorney and paid Hutchinson retainer payments in exchange in part for Hutchinson to take official action as an Arkansas legislator to benefit Burris and his orthodontic companies.
Between February 2014 and November 2016, Burris paid Hutchinson through Hutchinson’s law firm approximately $157,500 and provided Hutchinson with gifts including free orthodontic services for his family and the use of a private plane to travel to a college football game, officials report. In return, Hutchinson allegedly used his position as a state senator to draft and file legislation to amend a law restricting dental practices that Burris wanted to change.
In addition, officials say, Hutchinson advised and influenced members of the Arkansas Department of Human Services to expedite the approval of Medicaid applications for physician employees of Burris’ clinics.
On June 25, 2019, Hutchinson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery in the Eastern District of Kansas for his role in this scheme. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
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