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Medicaid Fraud Arrest of a Crittenden County Woman
Never Forget Missing Children and Adults

Rutledge: Arkansas Will Never Forget Its Missing Children and Adults

Thu, Jul 7, 2016

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the fifth annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event at Camp Robinson. The daylong event helps raise awareness of issues surrounding missing persons and recognizes Arkansas’s missing children and adults.

“It is impossible for us to understand the heartache and pain families go through when a loved one is missing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a State, however, we stand with them, pledging to never forget their family members. I hope that each person who attended today’s event comes away with renewed hope and a sense of comfort, knowing that there are countless individuals who will not rest until their loved one is found.”

“Continued training has always been essential, but with the explosive growth in technology and resources, it has become critical to law enforcement personnel conducting criminal investigations,” said retired police Sgt. Mark Simpson, from Arlington Texas. “Venues such as the Arkansas Never Forgotten event not only brings professionals from diverse law enforcement disciplines together to learn new technologies and techniques, but also allows them to interact and network. This type of training makes them better individually and professionally in working cases involving missing and exploited children.”

Sgt. Simpson spoke with members of law enforcement during a morning training session. Sgt. Simpson led the task force established to find Amber Hagerman and investigate her murder. Hagerman was abducted and recovered deceased in 1996, and her case led to the creation of the nationwide America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert system.

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, Morgan’s Choice Award was presented to the Bentonville Police Department for their work in apprehending a suspect who authorities believe traveled to Arkansas to target children. The Star of Excellence Award was presented to Rep. Bill Gossage for his tireless efforts to raise awareness and funding for the state’s 12 Child Abduction Response Teams.

Rutledge also partnered with the Morgan Nick Foundation to provide a daylong program for families of missing adults and children and families who have had loved ones recovered, both alive and deceased. The program facilitator was Duane Bowers, a nationally recognized and respected grief and trauma counselor who specializes in issues facing families of the missing.

Families were also able to meet with investigators about unsolved missing persons cases, provide information about their missing loved ones and, in some cases, provide DNA samples.

The event follows Rutledge’s announcement on Wednesday of a new website, NeverForgotten.ar.gov, which enables the public to access information on missing persons cases with an easy-to-use searchable database.

Assisting the Attorney General’s office with hosting the event were the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, FBI, Morgan Nick Foundation, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

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).

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Website to Assist with Missing Persons Cases

Website to Assist with Missing Persons Cases Unveiled by Attorney General and ACIC

Wed, Jul 6, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today, along with Rep. Bill Gossage and Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) Director Jay Winters, unveiled a website, hosted by ACIC, to assist with the more than 500 active Arkansas missing persons cases. NeverForgotten.ar.gov, which was launched today, enables the public to access information on missing persons cases with an easy-to-use searchable database.

“Since I became Attorney General, I have consistently heard that our State can do a better job of helping the public easily find information about these cases,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Now, all Arkansans will be able assist our law enforcement community by visiting this public website and obtaining information about missing Arkansans.”

“It is an exciting time as we see Arkansas bringing its resources to bear on locating missing kids and missing adults,” said Rep. Bill Gossage. “Today marks another huge step forward in bringing them home.”

“It is important for all agencies involved in locating missing children and adults to work in a partnership and this website is another step to accomplish that goal,” said Jay Winters, director of the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

“The Arkansas State Police is in a unique position to network with local law enforcement jurisdictions and share information relating to suspected homicide and disappearance cases,” said Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police. “Our doors at the State Police are always open to family members looking for help in finding the appropriate local jurisdiction and helping local police and sheriffs’ departments re-evaluate these cases that haunt countless families across the State.”

“We are pleased to partner with our State and local partners and participate with the Never Forgotten website,” stated Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge at the FBI Little Rock Field Office. “Working with our State and local partners to locate missing persons in Arkansas is important to the FBI, and we are happy to offer our resources to assist in the search for missing persons.”

"Every missing person matters,” said Colleen Nick, director of the Morgan Nick Foundation. “We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement community and the Attorney General’s office, unified in the fight to find those who are missing.”

Arkansas has over 500 unsolved missing persons cases, with those missing ranging from ages 2 to 99. Before this website was created, the public had limited access to information found in a full database of missing persons that has been maintained for law enforcement agencies. ACIC’s publicly searchable database had only about 50 missing persons listed and included missing persons cases on the agency’s website only when a local law enforcement agency submitted a special request.

NeverForgotten.ar.gov will include all missing persons from Arkansas and will be updated regularly. Arkansans who have missing loved ones should share as much information as possible, especially the most recent available photographs with their local law enforcement agency. Local agencies will provide updated information to ACIC to be included on the website.

In addition to Rutledge and ACIC, today’s website would not be possible without the partnership of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation – Little Rock Division, Morgan Nick Foundation and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

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Volkswagen Settlement

Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Volkswagen on Behalf of Arkansans

Wed, Jun 29, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement requiring Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million nationwide for violating laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

In September 2015, Rutledge joined the executive committee of a multistate investigation into Volkswagen for altering its emissions software. Rutledge says that by participating in the executive committee, attorneys within her office were able to take an active role in the investigation and resolution of this case to ensure that Arkansans receive proper compensation.

The settlement resolves consumer protection claims raised by this multistate investigation, which included 43 states, against Volkswagen AG; Audi AG; Volkswagen Group of America Inc.; Porsche AG; and Porsche Cars, North America Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen.

This settlement is part of a series of agreements that will provide cash payments to affected consumers, requires Volkswagen to buy back or modify certain VW and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles and prohibits Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and regulators.

“Volkswagen intentionally lied to Arkansans and made them believe that their ‘green’ vehicles were better for the environment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas consumers deserve to be treated honestly and fairly when they purchase a vehicle, but Volkswagen violated that trust. This settlement holds them accountable and provides much-owed restitution to consumers.”

The investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the U.S. equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants and actively concealed the existence of the defeat device from regulators and the general public.

Volkswagen made false statements to Arkansans in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly or “green” and that the cars were compliant with emissions standards.

Under this settlement, Volkswagen is required to implement a restitution and recall program for more than 475,000 owners and lessees of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, of the model years 2009 through 2015 at a maximum cost of just over $10 billion. This includes 2,540 vehicles in Arkansas.

Once the consumer program is approved by the court, affected Volkswagen owners will receive restitution payment of at least $5,100 and a choice between:

  • A buy back of the vehicle (based on pre-scandal NADA value); or
  • A modification to reduce emissions provided that Volkswagen can develop a modification acceptable to regulators. Owners will still be eligible to choose a buyback in the event regulators do not approve a fix. Owners who choose the modification option would also receive an Extended Emission Warranty and a Lemon Law-type remedy to protect against the possibility that the modification causes subsequent problems.

The consumer program also provides benefits and restitution for lessees (restitution and a no-penalty lease termination option) and sellers (50 percent of the restitution available to owners) after Sept. 18, 2015 when the emissions-cheating scandal was disclosed.

Additional components of the settlements include:

  • Environmental mitigation fund: Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion into a trust to support environmental programs throughout the country to reduce emissions of nitrogen. This fund, also subject to court approval, is intended to mitigate the total, lifetime excess nitrogen emissions from the 2.0-liter diesel vehicles.
  • Additional payment to the states: In addition to consumer restitution, Volkswagen will pay to the states more than $1,000 per car for repeated violations of state consumer-protection laws, amounting to $570 million nationwide. This amount includes $3 million paid for affected vehicles Volkswagen sold and leased in Arkansas.
  • Zero emission vehicles: Volkswagen has committed to investing $2 billion over the next 10 years for the development of non-polluting cars, or zero emission vehicles, and supporting infrastructure.
  • Preservation of environmental claims: The settlement by state attorneys general preserves all claims under state environmental laws, and Arkansas maintains the right to seek additional penalties from Volkswagen for its violations of environmental and emissions laws and regulations.

Volkswagen will also pay $20 million to the states for their costs in investigating this matter and to establish a fund that state attorneys general can utilize for future training and initiatives, including investigations concerning emissions violations, automobile compliance and consumer protection.

The full details of the consumer program will be available online at VWCourtSettlement.com and ftc.gov/VWSettlement.

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