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Rutledge: State Receives $50 Million in Tobacco Settlement Funds

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2017 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. Nearly 20 years ago, 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions entered into a historic, multibillion dollar agreement to settle consumer-protection lawsuits for the costs that they had incurred for treating the negative health effects of smoking.

“It is critical for me to continue enforcing the terms of the MSA agreement with the various tobacco companies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The money is used each year to conduct health care research, fund smoking cessation programs and improve the overall health of Arkansas residents. A large part of the money will also go to help fund the Arkansas Medicaid program, which is vital for some of our State’s most vulnerable families and children.”

This year’s disbursement of $50,523,025.47 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $947,255,651.

The MSA imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies. In addition, the agreement requires the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states. Arkansas received about $1.6 billion from the settlement, a portion of which is paid annually by the settling tobacco companies.

The Attorney General is tasked with enforcing the tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco wholesalers and manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.

In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the funds received under the settlement are used. Payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association and re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for May

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for May.

Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative during her first year in office to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. In both 2015 and 2016, office hours were held in all 75 counties assisting nearly 1,300 Arkansans.

The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.

Rutledge continues her partnership that began in 2016 with local law enforcement across the State to offer prescription drug take back boxes. Law enforcement will be at all mobile offices to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Rutledge encourages Arkansans to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.

The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:

Washington County

Tuesday, May 2

10:30 a.m.- noon

Springdale Senior Center

203 Park St.

Springdale, AR 72764

Poinsett County

Tuesday, May 9

10-11:30 a.m.

Harrisburg Senior Life Center

300 Fairgrounds Road

Harrisburg, AR 72432

Columbia County

Thursday, May 11

10-11:30 a.m.

Columbia County Nutrition Center

600 Lelia St.

Magnolia, AR 71753

Boone County

Tuesday, May 16

10-11:30 a.m.

Boone County Senior Activity and Wellness Center

1516 Rock Springs Road

Harrison, AR 72601

Lafayette County

Wednesday, May 17

10-11:30 a.m.

Lafayette County Senior Citizens Center – Stamps

228 Church St.

Stamps, AR 71860

Yell County

Monday May 22

9:30-11 a.m.

Leon Millsap Senior Activity Center

1301 E. 8th St.

Danville, AR 72833

Montgomery County

Tuesday, May 23

10-11:30 a.m.

Mount Ida Senior Activity Center

158 Senior Drive

Mount Ida, AR 71957

White County

Tuesday, May 30

9:30 to 11 a.m.

Lightle Senior Center

2200 E. Moore Ave.

Searcy, AR 72143

Rutledge Statement Following the Execution of Inmate Marcel Williams

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the execution by lethal injection of inmate Marcel Williams.

“After years of delay, Stacy Errickson’s family and friends have seen justice carried out for her brutal death on November 20, 1994. Stacy was a young mother of two when she was kidnapped, raped and strangled to death with the drawstring from the hood of her own jacket. I hope that tonight’s lawful execution brings much-needed peace to all of Stacy’s loved ones, particularly her now-adult children Brittany and Bryan.”

Facts of the case and procedural history:

Marcel Williams was convicted and sentenced to death in Pulaski County for the capital murder, kidnapping, rape, and aggravated robbery of Stacy Errickson. Stacy was a young mother of two – 4 year old Brittany and 7 month old Bryan. On the morning of November 20, 1994, Stacy left her children with a babysitter and headed to work at a pediatric clinic. On the way, she stopped at a gas station in Jacksonville to put gas in her car. As she was pumping gas, Marcel Williams pulled a gun on her, forced her into the passenger side of her car and drove her car around to several ATMs, making Stacy withdraw every cent she had. Eighteen transactions total were made. He then drove her to a storage unit facility where he brutally raped her. He relentlessly beat her and ultimately strangled her with the drawstring from the hood of her own jacket. He finally dumped her body in a shallow grave by the old smokestack in the Vestal Park area of North Little Rock. Over the next three days, he abducted and raped two other young women in the area. He told police Stacy was still alive, giving Stacy’s family false hope that she was still alive. Stacy’s decomposing body was found 16 days after Williams murdered her.

The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed Williams’s convictions and death sentence on direct appeal. Thereafter, Williams filed a petition for post-conviction relief that was denied by the circuit court, and the denial was affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court on appeal. He next filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, and the federal district court granted relief as to one claim. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed the district court’s grant of relief, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the 8th Circuit’s decision. Williams next asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to recall its mandate, and Arkansas Supreme Court refused to do so. The U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision.

Rutledge Statement Following the Execution of Inmate Jack Jones

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the execution by lethal injection of inmate Jack Jones.

“This evening, Lacey Phillips Manor and Darla Phillips Jones have seen justice for the brutal rape and murder of their mother, Mary Phillips. Mary was performing her job as a bookkeeper in Bald Knob on June 6, 1995, when she was strangled to death with a coffee pot cord while her 11-year-old daughter Lacey clung to life a few feet away after being choked and beaten. The Phillips family has waited far too long to see justice carried out, and I pray they find peace tonight.”

Facts of the case and procedural history:

Jack Jones was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death on April 17, 1996, in White County. On June 6, 1995, 17-year-old Darla Phillips dropped her 11-year-old sister Lacey off at Automated Tax and Accounting Service in Bald Knob, where their mother, 34-year-old Mary Phillips, worked as a bookkeeper. A man, who had come into the business earlier that day, and borrowed a book, entered the business again. He then told Lacey and her mother that he was sorry, but that he was going to have to rob them. He ordered Mary to lay on her stomach, and then made Lacey lay down on top of her mother. After retrieving the cash out of the register, he took them into a small break room. The man took Lacey into a bathroom off of the break room, tied her to a chair, then left. When he returned, Lacey, asked the man not to hurt her mother, to which he replied, “I’m not. I’m going to hurt you.” He began to choke Lacey until she passed out. After Lacey lost consciousness, Jones struck her at least eight times in the head with the barrel of a BB gun, causing severe lacerations and multiple skull fractures. When Lacey woke up, she saw blood and began to vomit. She went back to sleep and awakened later when police, seeing her bloodied body and thinking she was dead, were taking photographs of her.

Police found Mary’s body nude from the waist down. A cord from a nearby Mr. Coffee pot was wrapped around her neck and wire was tied around her hands, which were positioned behind her back. According to autopsy results, Mary died from strangulation and blunt-force head injuries. Rectal swabs indicated that she had been raped before she was killed.

Jones admitted to the police that he had committed the crimes because he wanted to get revenge against the police. He reasoned that his wife had been raped, and that the police had done nothing about it.

The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed Jones’s conviction and sentence in 1997, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari. Jones filed a Rule 37 post-conviction petition in the trial court in 1998, which was denied and the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the denial of relief in 2000.

Jones then filed a federal habeas corpus petition in 2000. The district court denied relief on November 8, 2004, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit dismissed his appeal on June 14, 2006. His petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 13, 2006.

Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Former Congressman Jay Dickey

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement on the passing of former Fourth District Congressman Jay Dickey.

“It would be hard to find a kinder man who enjoyed nothing more than traveling the Fourth Congressional District, telling stories and visiting with the people he represented than Jay Dickey. No matter the job he held or where it took him, Jay never forgot his south Arkansas roots. During his time in Congress, he worked tirelessly to help the Fourth Congressional District grow and prosper and to help solve any challenge facing his constituents. Jay was a man of deep faith, and I know he met his Lord and Savior when he left us on this earth. May God bring comfort and peace to Jay’s family and friends and all those across Arkansas who loved and knew him.”

Rutledge Statement Following the Execution of Inmate Ledell Lee

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the execution by lethal injection of inmate Ledell Lee.

“Tonight the lawful sentence of a jury which has been upheld by the courts through decades of challenges has been carried out. The family of the late Debra Reese, who was brutally murdered with a tire thumper after being targeted because she was home alone, has waited more than 24 years to see justice done. I pray this lawful execution helps bring closure for the Reese family.”

Facts of the case and procedural history:

Ledell Lee was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in Pulaski County in 1996. In February 1993, Lee strangled and beat Debra Reese with a tire thumper, resulting in her death. On the morning of the murder, Lee had been going door to door in Reese’s neighborhood asking to borrow tools. Lee, a serial kidnapper and rapist, targeted Reese after he discovered she was home alone. Reese was last heard from when she telephoned her mother to tell her about the encounter with Lee, which left her uneasy. Reese’s battered body was discovered in her bedroom later that same day.

The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed Lee’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal in 1997. Thereafter, Lee filed a petition for post-conviction relief that was denied by the circuit court, and the denial was affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court on appeal. Lee’s petition for post-conviction relief was reconsidered by the circuit court after a U.S. District Court judge found that Lee’s post-conviction counsel might have been impaired during the proceedings. Following a hearing on his amended petition for post-conviction relief, Lee was again denied relief by the circuit court, and the Arkansas Supreme Court again affirmed the denial on appeal. Lee also sought relief in a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in federal court, and it was denied. Lee unsuccessfully tried to appeal the denial, first to the 8th Circuit Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lee filed an application for executive clemency citing separate conflicts of interest with counsel and the trial judge, reasonable doubt as to his guilt, an offer of a life sentence from the State and a change in societal acceptance of the death penalty as bases for relief. A clemency hearing was held on March 24, and Lee’s application was denied.

April
27
Thursday

Logan County Resources Day

Booneville Senior Center
545 Heritage Drive

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Boyd Hicks
10 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
May
2
Tuesday

Washington County Resource Day

Springdale Senior Center
203 Park Street, Springdale

Mobile Office
10:30 a.m. to noon

Prescription Drug Take Back
10:30 a.m. to noon
Prescription drug take back partner: Sheriff Tim Helder

Senior Scams and Identity Theft Prevention Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:30 AMVIEW 
May
9
Tuesday

Poinsett County Resource Day

Harrisburg Senior Life Center
300 Fairgrounds Road, Harrisburg

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.
Prescription drug take back partner: Sheriff Kevin Molder

Senior Scams and Identity Theft Prevention Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
May
11
Thursday

Columbia County Resource Day

 12:00 AMVIEW 
May
16
Tuesday

Boone County Resource Day

 12:00 AMVIEW 
May
18
Thursday

Lafayette County Resource Day

 12:00 AMVIEW 
View All
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