The Sebastian County Prosecutor has filed a motion with the State Prosecutor Coordinator to appoint a special prosecutor in a new investigation of a 2014 wire transfer of $80,000 from an Arkansas nursing home group partner to then-state Sen. Jake Files’ Fort Smith-based construction company.
Sebastian County Prosecutor Dan Shue made the request to keep from having any perceived conflict of interest.
"I do not want there to be any risk of even perceived unfairness with regard to this matter," Shue writes in the motion for appointment of a special prosecutor.
Shue also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Dwayne “DAK” Kees on April 10 to inquire if the wire transfer was “made in violation of federal law.” Files is currently scheduled for sentencing June 18 in U.S. District Court on one count each of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in relation to improper use of state General Improvement Fund money for the River Valley Sports Complex at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith. Files pleaded guilty in January.
Bob McMahan, prosecutor coordinator with the Arkansas Office of Prosecutor Coordinator, said Friday he has sent a letter to a Sebastian County Circuit Judge recommending a prosecutor from McMahan’s office in Little Rock to serve as a special prosecutor in the wire transfer investigation.
The $80,000 wire transfer from David L. Norsworthy was exposed by the Times Record in May 2017 following its appearance in court documents not listed as confidential and part of discovery in a lawsuit against Files’ now defunct business FFH Construction.
The wire transfer came into FFH Construction’s First National Bank account one week after Arkansas Senate Joint Resolution 1 was filed to amend the Arkansas Constitution concerning civil claims and court procedures. That measure died in committee, but a similar attempt to limit civil suits was revived with a petition and failed to reach a public vote as Issue 4 in 2016 when the Arkansas Supreme Court took it off the ballot.
However, a similar effort through Senate Joint Resolution 8, which Files co-sponsored, will be up for a vote in November as Issue 1. Norsworthy is currently a board member of the Arkansas Health Care Association, an advocate for Issue 1 on the November ballot.
No explanation has been given by Norsworthy or Files for the $80,000 wire transfer.
"A duly qualified person shall be appointed as soon as practicable to serve as Special Prosecuting Attorney, being vested with the same constitutional and statutory powers as those of the elected Prosecuting Attorney in the Twelth Judicial District and shall have full investigative and prosecutorial authority in the investigation and prosecuting of any criminal conduct related to Jake Files, a former State Senator," states the order of appointment signed by Shue and Sebastian County Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor on May 25.