NewsEvents

Rutledge Reaches Settlement for Illegal Diesel Emissions

Arkansas to receive more than $1.5 million in settlements with Fiat Chrysler and Bosch

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached two settlements in the form of consent judgments requiring Fiat Chrysler and auto supplier Bosch to pay a total of $171.2 million nationwide for their roles in selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

“Fiat Chrysler is being held accountable for cheating on emissions testing, and Bosch is answering for its role in providing the software,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue to hold automobile makers and their suppliers accountable for wrongful and deceptive conduct.”

Following a nearly two-year investigation, Rutledge, with 51 jurisdictions nationwide, filed suit against Fiat Chrysler and its subsidiaries, for having installed unlawful defeat device software and undisclosed auxiliary emissions control devices in several models of its diesel vehicles. The attorneys general found that Fiat Chrysler cheated on federal and state emissions tests by calibrating the software to conceal that vehicles emitted higher than permitted levels of harmful nitrogen oxides in real-world driving conditions, and misled consumers by falsely claiming some vehicles were environmentally friendly.

After a separate but related investigation, Rutledge, along with 49 other jurisdictions, filed suit against Bosch which is the engineering company that supplies Fiat Chrysler and other automobile manufacturers with electronic control units housing the complex software that controls nearly all aspects of an engine’s performance, including emissions systems. The investigation concluded that Bosch facilitated the implementation of the defeat device software in more than 600,000 Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles over a period of more than 10 years.

Under the terms of the two settlements, Fiat Chrysler will pay a total of $72.5 million to the litigating jurisdictions for consumer and environmental violations, with Arkansas receiving $763,750. Bosch will pay $98.7 million, with $737,100 for Arkansas.

The settlement requires Fiat Chrysler to eliminate the defeat device features through a software “flash fix”; provide eligible owners and lessors extended warranties; and, together with co-defendant Bosch, pay eligible owners who take their vehicle to an authorized dealer for the software repair an average restitution payment of approximately $2,908 and lessees and former owners who do so restitution of $990. Fiat Chrysler is also prohibited from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection to its dealings with consumers.

Bosch has also agreed to injunctive terms and to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and must refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software.

Rutledge reached a settlement with Volkswagen in 2016 on similar allegations.

Rutledge Announces Pulaski County Man Sentenced for Possessing Child Pornography

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that a Pulaski County man, who has a previous conviction for incest, has been sentenced to 80 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child pornography charges.

Anthony Lee Ridenour, 57, of Little Rock, pleaded guilty to eight counts of possessing, distributing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was found in possession of approximately 900 videos and images of adult men and women engaging in sexual intercourse and forced penetration with children as young as 2-3 years old.

“Ridenour possessed and shared these horrible videos which continue the vicious victimization of these innocent children,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not stand for this disgusting behavior and am committed to getting these predators off the internet and out of our neighborhoods where they can no longer prey on children.”

Ridenour was arrested in February by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit when special agents seized laptops and external storage devices from his residence. An attorney from the Attorney General’s Office was appointed Special Deputy Prosecutor in the case by the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

Rutledge Takes Oath of Office for Second Term as Attorney General

Says, ‘true honor to pursue justice, good and right’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following having been sworn in for her second term as Attorney General today.

“Serving the people of Arkansas as Attorney General has been a true honor to pursue justice, good and right,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As we begin the next four years, I remain committed to increasing economic and educational opportunities for our families and keeping our most vulnerable children and seniors safe from predators. I will continue making the State more efficient and effective by expanding services and accessibility while decreasing the budget. On behalf of Boyce, Julianna and me, thank you, Arkansas families, for trusting me with these great responsibilities.”

Rutledge took the oath of office in the Chamber of the Arkansas State Capitol House of Representatives while her parents Keith and Nancy Rutledge, her brother Alan Rutledge and niece Kylie Rutledge as well as several other family members and friends observed from the House Gallery. She was escorted onto the House floor by her husband, Boyce Johnson who held their five-month old daughter Julianna and the family Bible.

In December 2015, Rutledge announced her marriage to Johnson and in July 2018, Rutledge announced the birth of their daughter, Julianna. Rutledge is the first constitutional officer of Arkansas to give birth while holding office, and also the first female and first Republican elected to the Office of Attorney General in Arkansas.

Rutledge joined Governor Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, Secretary of State John Thurston, Auditor of State Andrea Lea, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan and Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land at today’s inaugural ceremonies.

Rutledge Joins President Trump for Roundtable Discussion on Border Security and Safe Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge participated today in a roundtable discussion with President Donald J. Trump on border security, illegal immigration and the dangers facing our communities nationwide that have been created at our southern border.

“President Trump understands that our Nation's security must be a top priority and that Congress must provide funding to protect our borders,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is imperative for the United States to restore security and the integrity of our immigration system. Every Arkansan and American is less safe following decades of failed policies, and it is time for Congress to fund not only the border wall, but also new technology and reinforcement for our border patrol agents.”

Rutledge’s top priority as attorney general is keeping Arkansans safe. The southern border is overwhelmed with illegal immigration, gang violence, crime, drugs and human trafficking, which disperse across the United States and into Arkansas. Rural America is particularly impacted because the border crisis has empowered cartels and drug trafficking. Rutledge has worked alongside Arkansas law enforcement leadership to combat the opioid crisis and identify ways to better serve those providing an essential service.

Rutledge Announces Lonoke County Man Sentenced for Possessing Child Pornography

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that a Lonoke County man has been sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child pornography charges.

James Christopher Bynum, 47, of Cabot, pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing, distributing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was found in possession of numerous images and videos of adult men engaging in sexual intercourse and forced penetration with children as young as 9-10 years old.

“Bynum possessed and shared horrific images of innocent children being victimized,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These victims deserve justice. I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods where they cannot harm more children.”

Bynum was arrested in March by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit where special agents seized multiple electronic devices from his residence. An attorney from the Attorney General’s Office was appointed Special Deputy Prosecutor in the case by the 23rd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham.

Rutledge Announces Arrest of Preferred Family Healthcare Therapist for Fraudulently Billing Medicaid

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a mental health therapist at Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH).

Kandice Robinson, 33, of Bartlett, Tenn., is accused of billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services not rendered between August 15 and November 1, 2017, totaling about $4,950. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Robinson turned herself in at Pulaski County District Court. She is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony.

“Robinson is another PFH employee accused of lying and charging Medicaid for services she did not provide,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “People cheating the Medicaid system are stealing from taxpayers and hurting the system, which is designed to protect Arkansas’s most vulnerable. I will not tolerate this behavior as the Attorney General.”

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

January
22
Tuesday

White County Resources Day

Lightle Senior Center
2200 East Moore Avenue, Searcy

Mobile Office
noon to 1:30 p.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Phillip Miller
noon to 1:30 p.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
noon to 12:30 p.m.

 12:00 PMVIEW 
January
23
Wednesday

Overdose Death Investigation and Prosecution Training

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Benton Event Center

Because the number of deaths resulting from overdoses of heroin and fentanyl has surged in recent years reaching epidemic proportions, this new, free course for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and coroners will cover:

  • Basic drug overdose death investigation techniques
  • Discuss legal requirements and issues involved in drug overdose death investigations
  • Address drug safety awareness particular to heroin and fentanyl
  • And highlight proper evidence handling and protocols

Topics will include:

  • Changing the mindset from accident to homicide
  • Responding to and investigating drug overdose deaths
  • Evidence to look for
  • Documenting the death scene
  • Electronic evidence: cell phones, social media and more
  • Witness and suspect interview techniques
  • Search and seizure issues
  • Legal theory and case development
  • Intelligence gathering and sharing
  • Officer safety when dealing with drugs like fentanyl
  • Case analysis

Lunch will be provided. For questions, email oag@ArkansasAG.gov.

Register online today.
 8:30 AMVIEW 
January
24
Thursday

Ashley County Resources Day

Hamburg Senior Center
1406 North Main Street

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
January
29
Tuesday

Prairie County Resources Day

Des Arc Senior Center
1103 East Main Street

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Rick Hickman
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
January
31
Thursday

Clark County Resources Day

Arkadelphia Senior Adult Center
1305 North 10th Street

Mobile Office
11 to 12:30 p.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Jason Watson
11 to 12:30 p.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
noon to 12:30 p.m.

 11:00 AMVIEW 
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