Rutledge Recognizes Families of Arkansas’s Missing Persons at Never Forgotten EventTue, Jul 17, 2018
FBI receives Star of Excellence Award; Trumann Police and Mississippi County Sheriff receive Morgan’s Choice Award
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the seventh annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event at the Benton Event Center. The daylong event helps raise awareness of issues surrounding missing persons and recognizes Arkansas’s missing children and adults.
“This annual event is important for families across Arkansas to know they have the support from the State and members of law enforcement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Though time will never heal the pain and uncertainty these families go through each day, I hope they understand that we will never forget their loved ones.”
Law enforcement officers heard from Sarah Krebs, a detective sergeant forensic artist with the Michigan State Police, explaining how her evidence-based drawings and three-dimensional reconstructions aid in the investigation of unidentified remains, the apprehension of suspects and the resolution of missing person cases.
Officers also heard from Derek VanLuchene, CART Program coordinator with the National Criminal Justice Training Center – AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, as well as President and Founder of Ryan United. He presented the case study of 4-year-old Maci Lilly, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and was abducted from a playground in Montana in February 2016. Maci’s disappearance led to a statewide Amber Alert and a successful recovery. His discussion focused on working with child witnesses and how to locate resources in an active search and recovery.
“No matter how much time goes by, families of the missing deserve answers,” said VanLuchene. “There is never ‘closure’ in these cases. These families keep fighting. They keep searching. We need to bring these cases to the forefront. Events like this help bring them home by getting information out to the public. With modern technology and good police work, these families will get answers.”
At the same time as the law enforcement session, a panel discussion was held for the families of missing persons on available resources to assist them with locating their loved ones. Participating agencies included Arkansas Crime Information Center, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, FBI, the Morgan Nick Foundation and others.
A luncheon was hosted by Rutledge to honor the families of the missing and thank law enforcement for assisting in missing persons cases. The event also provided support and networking opportunities for families still searching and for those who have tragically lost loved ones.
During the luncheon, The Morgan’s Choice Award, named after Morgan Nick, who went missing in 1995, was presented to the Trumann Police Department and the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office for their roles in quickly recovering missing persons from their respective counties this year. The Star of Excellence Award was presented to Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch with the FBI – Little Rock District office for her continued efforts to combat human trafficking and internet crimes against children.
In 2016, Rutledge was part of a collaborative effort to launch a new website, NeverForgotten.ar.gov, which enables the public to access information on missing persons cases with an easy-to-use searchable database. Rutledge also recently launched #MissingPersonMondays, a social media campaign to highlight one individual listed on the NeverForgotten.ar.gov site every Monday throughout the year. And earlier this week, Rutledge announced the creation of a resource guide that is available for families of missing persons to provide a list of best practices to help families work through this difficult process.
The Attorney General’s office serves as an information clearinghouse for reports on Arkansas’s missing children and acts as the main point of contact for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
To reach the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline, call (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).
Rutledge to Investigate Apartment ComplexesMon, Jul 16, 2018
Says, ‘The reports given in last week’s newspaper are appalling’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she is demanding information and opened an investigation in response to events detailed in last week’s article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about run-down apartment conditions at both Bella Vista Apartments and Pleasant Ridge Apartments in Little Rock.
“Landlords should want to maintain not only livable conditions in their facilities, but should ensure high quality housing opportunities for Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The reports given in last week’s newspaper are appalling and no one should be forced to live in unlivable conditions. I am seeking answers from both companies regarding their repair and maintenance practices at these and potentially other properties where Arkansans live and raise their children.”
It is the role of the Attorney General to investigate, research and analyze business practices and issues that affect consumer interests. The Attorney General is empowered to seek civil penalties, injunctive relief, suspension of business licenses, and attorney fees for proven violations of the law.
Citizens harmed by unsafe living conditions at Bella Vista Apartments and Pleasant Ridge Apartments in Little Rock should contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge to Host 7th Annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes ActionMon, Jul 16, 2018
New resource guide available for families who have experienced the disappearance of a loved one
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today, in advance of the 7th annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event, announced that a new resource guide is available for families of missing persons. The booklet was produced as a resource guide for families who have experienced the disappearance of a loved one. The guide covers topics such as gathering evidence in the first 48 hours, working with the NamUs program and law enforcement and reaching out to local media to highlight missing persons cases.
“Many families do not know the initial steps they should take when a family member is missing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This resource guide gives families a list of best practices to help families work through this difficult process.”
The annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event is July 17 at the Benton Event Center. Registration is still open for families and law enforcement.
From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., a panel discussion will be held for the families of missing persons on available resources to assist them with locating their loved ones. Participating agencies include Arkansas Crime Information Center, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, FBI, the Morgan Nick Foundation and others.
From 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., a law enforcement training will be held. Sarah Krebs, a detective sergeant-forensic artist with the Michigan State Police, will explain how her evidence-based drawings and three-dimensional reconstructions aid in the investigation of unidentified remains, the apprehension of suspects and the resolution of missing person cases.
Officers will also hear from Derek VanLuchene, CART Program coordinator with the National Criminal Justice Training Center – AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, as well as President and Founder of Ryan United. VanLuchene will present the case study of 4-year-old Maci Lilly, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and was abducted from a playground in Montana in February 2016. Maci’s disappearance led to a statewide Amber Alert and a successful recovery. He will discuss working with child witnesses and how to locate resources in an active search and recovery.
From noon to 1:30 p.m., Rutledge will host a luncheon, which will include a ceremony to honor families of missing children and adults and to recognize law enforcement officials who work to solve missing persons cases.
Members of the media planning to attend should contact Jessica Ray at Jessica.Ray@arkansasag.gov or (501) 539-0955.
Rutledge Asks Retailers to Remove Unwashed Poppy Seeds from ShelvesFri, Jul 13, 2018
Says, ‘unwashed poppy seeds contain substantial amounts of morphine, codeine and thebaine’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she has sent a letter to online retailers, including Amazon, Ebay and Etsy, requesting the removal of unwashed poppy seeds from online products. In May, Attorney General Rutledge released an Attorney General Alert warning of the dangers of unwashed poppy seeds and telling the story of Stephen Hacala, who died from morphine intoxication after consuming so-called poppy seed tea made from unwashed poppy seeds.
“This letter outlines the unknown dangers of unwashed poppy seeds,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Although washed poppy seeds are approved for consumption for use such as baking ingredients, unwashed poppy seeds can contain substantial amounts of morphine, codeine and thebaine, which are harmful Schedule II controlled substances.”
Earlier this year, Attorney General Rutledge met with Steve and Betty Hacala to hear the heartbreaking story of their son, Stephen. Stephen had purchased unwashed poppy seeds from Amazon to make so-called poppy seed tea, presumably with the hope of achieving the “trip” that online Amazon reviewers reference. In April 2016, Stephen was found dead in his apartment in Fayetteville with a partially used 5-pound bag of poppy seeds and a water bottle containing some of the wet seeds. An autopsy, performed by Dr. Stephen Erickson at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, revealed that Stephen Hacala died of morphine intoxication.
“We want to thank General Rutledge and her office for taking proactive actions to warn consumers and to motivate online and traditional retailers to remove unwashed poppy seeds for sale,” said Steve Hacala. “There is no legitimate use for unwashed poppy seeds, and their sale and distribution needs to be stopped to protect consumers and close another channel for users to obtain opioids. These actions will save lives.”
“I have tried to separate myself from the pain of these families for 25 years now,” Dr. Erickson said. “But when a loved one like Stephen Hacala dies, I technically become that family’s doctor. I’m just so tired of seeing the heartbreak. You shouldn’t be able to buy these things off the internet that are so dangerous and can kill you so easily.”
Attorney General Rutledge is asking these online retailers to remove all unwashed poppy seeds from their online catalogs and affiliated stores to help prevent the deaths of consumers in the future. Walmart has already taken action to no longer be part of the problem by removing unwashed poppy seeds from their shelves.
Rutledge Names Nicholas Bronni as Solicitor GeneralWed, Jul 11, 2018
Thanks Lee Rudofsky for his service to the office and State
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today named Nicholas Bronni of Little Rock as Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Office following the departure of Lee Rudofsky, who has served in that role since July 2015.
“Since joining the office in April 2016, Nicholas Bronni has consistently used his legal expertise to successfully defend common sense abortion regulations, battle federal overreach, and pursue justice for crime victims,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “His experience as Deputy Solicitor General and at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has given him the knowledge and expertise to continue the great work Lee Rudofsky has done as Arkansas’s first Solicitor General.”
Solicitor General Bronni said, “I look forward to using my experience to continue to assist Attorney General Rutledge in protecting Arkansans from criminals and scam artists as well as push back against federal overreach.”
Bronni, a Camden native, is a 2005 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. He received his undergraduate degree summa cum laude from George Washington University. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Bronni was a Senior Litigation Counsel with the Appellate Litigation Group at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was an associate in the appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice at Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP in Washington, D.C. He also clerked for the Honorable Jay S. Bybee of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Bronni also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, where he teaches appellate litigation skills. Bronni lives in Little Rock with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Margaret.
Rutledge announced the creation of the Solicitor General position in 2015, appointing Rudofsky to hold the inaugural position for the State of Arkansas. He will depart the office having advised Attorney General Rutledge on several key proceedings, including being the only state in America to successfully terminate Medicaid program funding to Planned Parenthood. He organized a multistate, bipartisan and multimillion dollar lawsuit against the State of Delaware to the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully guided litigation allowing the execution of convicted murderers by lethal injection. Rudofsky is also credited with implementing the office’s first formal moot court program to prepare office attorneys for argument as well as establishing a clear review process of all briefs going to the 8th Circuit and Arkansas Supreme Court.
On the departure of Rudofsky, Rutledge said, “Lee has been a trusted advisor and a key member of my staff over the past three years. He has been a stalwart defender of the rule of law and represented Arkansans honorably during his time in public service.”
“I will be forever grateful to Attorney General Rutledge for giving me the opportunity to serve the people of Arkansas in this special role,” said Rudofsky. “I will be forever grateful to my colleagues in the Attorney General’s Office for their friendship, collegiality, dedication and teamwork. And I will be forever grateful to the people of this great State for welcoming me and my family with open arms and warm hearts.”
Rudofsky’s last day with the Attorney General’s Office is July 20. He will be joining Walmart’s anticorruption compliance team in Northwest Arkansas.
Rutledge Statement on the Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme CourtMon, Jul 9, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Donald J. Trump.
“Once again, President Donald Trump has appointed one of the country’s top legal minds to serve on the nation’s highest court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. and has worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, at the Justice Department and even clerked for Justice Kennedy. Judge Kavanaugh has continuously supported reigning in the over-regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama Administration, as well as deeming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional. His legal experience and educational background make him an exceptional choice by the President and one that I fully support. I know Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice will continue to protect the liberties of all Americans.”