Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington
of Jonesboro said Friday he'd concluded a nearly year-long review of the city of Blytheville's
failure to pay $2 million in tax withholdings without finding evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Ellington concluded it was "a case of poor management by city officials with control of city expenditures rather than criminal wrongdoing." He also said a review of chemical purchases in the water department had turned up no evidence of overcharges or misspending.
His formal letter is here.
City voters approved a sales tax to repay the debt,
which mounted to $3 million with penalties.
Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington announced Friday that the criminal investigation into the City of Blytheville’s failure to pay $2 million in payroll tax withholdings has been closed with no evidence to conclude criminal wrongdoing.
Ellington initiated the Arkansas State Police probe last year after a stream of requests from Blytheville citizens calling for an investigation. ASP turned their file over to the district attorney’s office in late 2012, but Ellington said he had purpose in not pulling the plug on the case for nearly a year.
This case was intentionally left on life support for a year with hopes that time might provide some evidence or additional clues as to where the money went,” Ellington said. “However, this matter has proved to be a case of poor management by city officials with control of city expenditures, rather than criminal wrongdoing.”
While looking into the circumstances surrounding the tax issues, state and federal investigators also inquired into city purchases of chemicals for the water department.
“There was no evidence the city was being overcharged or that any inappropriate payments were made by the chemical vendor to any city official,” The prosecutor said. “The personal finances of the city’s former financial director were also examined by investigators, and there was no proof that public funds were deposited into any personal accounts.”