Mobbed up in NLR: The wiretap chronicles | Arkansas Blog

Mobbed up in NLR: The wiretap chronicles

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CHARGED: Former Alderman Cary Gaines (left) and current Alderman Sam Baggett - SHERWOOD VOICE
  • Sherwood Voice
  • CHARGED: Former Alderman Cary Gaines (left) and current Alderman Sam Baggett

NLR TARGETS: Cary Gaines (left) and Sam Baggett.
  • Sherwood Voice
  • NLR TARGETS: Cary Gaines (left) and Sam Baggett.

Recent filings in federal court shed a little more light on the federal indictment against former North Little Rock Alderman Cary Gaines, accused of conspiring with George Thompson of Cabot, a reputed bookie and member of an eastern crime family, to funnel city business Thompson's way to help pay off Gaines' gambling debts. The investigation also produced an indictment against Alderman Sam Baggett for illegal weapons dealing.

For your reading pleasure: The bill of particulars produced by the U.S. attorney last week after a series of pleas for it by Gaines' attorney Chuck Banks.. It's based in large part apparently on information gathered from wiretaps on Gaines and Thompson.

It provides a window into Gaines' activities in trying to help others get city paving and landscaping jobs. It also shows close communications with Mayor Pat Hays, who at one point seemed to be trying to help Gaines out of a financial predicament — complicated by Gaines' pending divorce — by helping him get a job at a bank. It also reports a conversation between Gaines and a city official on piecing out city paving work to avoid required public bid minimums. That didn't happen, however.

From the government's account of events on April 21 (emphasis supplied in government document):

Gaines calls Joe Smith, director of commerce and government affairs for the City of North Little Rock, and states this is is the most important call of the year, right here with you right now. Joe Smith tells Gaines that Smith can't do exactly what Gaines wants him to do. Smith states: "Because it's over $20,000 we really don't have much discretion. That's state law. I'm going to have to bid it out." Gaines replies, "Ok, but the other night, you talked about though maybe doing one phase at $19,000 on one half of it and see how he did." Joe Smith says, "We can still do that but we need a plan." Gaines states that he went to a landscaper first for a bid and then got bids from three other people."

As it turned out, the city didn't choose to do small jobs, but extended an existing large contract with a paver to continue doing all city work. And it never got around to the landscaping project Gaines had pushed. Gaines talked about that work with a city employee before he was indicted, however. The bill of particulars notes that Gaines called the mayor to inform him that a search warrant had been served on Alderman Baggett. As it chronicles Gaines activities, it notes he continued to bet on basketball games with Thompson.

The government contends that the effort to work out the contracts — though not realized — was a means to pay off Gaines' debts to George Thompson and thus sufficient to establish the crime alleged. The government last week also filed six volumes of material related to wire taps of Gaines and Thompson.

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