Jon Woods

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Jonathan Earl "Jon" Woods
Jon Senate.jpg
Member of the Arkansas Senate
from the 7th district
In office
January 14, 2013 – January 9, 2017
Preceded byBill Pritchard
Succeeded byLance Eads
Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives
from the 93rd District
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 14, 2013
Preceded byDoug Matayo
Succeeded byJim Dotson
Personal details
Born (1977-08-23) August 23, 1977 (age 41)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Political partyRepublican
ResidenceSpringdale, Arkansas
Alma materUniversity of Arkansas
former legislator
WebsiteLegislative Bio
Jon Woods
Background information
Birth nameJonathan Earl Woods
Born (1977-08-23) August 23, 1977 (age 41)
Charlotte, North Carolina
GenresRock, Alternative
InstrumentsThunderbird Bass, vocals
Years active2004–present
Associated actsA Good Fight
WebsiteA Good Fight Website

Jonathan Earl Woods, known as Jon Woods (born August 23, 1977, in Charlotte, North Carolina), is a Republican former member of both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly and is a record producer and musician. He is now in prison for political corruption.

Woods served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013 and in the Arkansas Senate from 2013 to 2017. During his legislative career, he sponsored 103 bills that became law, pushed for the establishment of nearly a dozen task forces and commissions, and passed four constitutional amendments.

On March 1, 2017, Woods was found guilty of fifteen federal counts for his collusion in a kickback scheme involving Oren Paris, III, the president of Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arkansas, where Woods resides. Others indicted were Randell Shelton, Jr., of Alma in Crawford County, Arkansas, and Micah Neal, a former state representative who pleaded guilty to one act of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.[1][2][3][4] The trial has been controversial due in part to the actions of the lead FBI agent and is awaiting an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.[5]

He is the bass guitarist for the rock band, A Good Fight.


In 1979, Woods and his family relocated from North Carolina to Blytheville in Mississippi County in eastern Arkansas. He attended Gosnell public schools through the ninth grade, where he played football, basketball, and ran track. He began his involvement in local and state government through the mentorship of Arkansas State Representative Ann Bush, a fellow Republican. Ann and her husband, Allen, part owners of Bush's Baked Beans, recruited Woods to join the Boy Scouts of America, in which he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Having grown up in the Arkansas Delta, Jon was heavily influenced by the music scene in nearby Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1993, at the end of Jon's freshman year of high school, his father was offered a job with Allen Canning located in Siloam Springs in Benton County, Arkansas. After relocating to Siloam Springs, Woods attended the John Brown University basketball camp during the summer before his sophomore year at which he met John W. Brown, who became a Special Operative Pararescueman and was killed in action the 2011 Chinook shootdown in Afghanistan.[6]

During Woods' junior year at Siloam Springs High School, he attended Arkansas Boys State. While in high school, Jon played football and basketball, but chose soccer rather than track. Several of the high school soccer team players were musicians, who inspired Woods to pick up the guitar more seriously. He also took private vocal lessons at John Brown University. During this time, fellow basketball and soccer player, musician, and close friend Tim Berry died in a car accident at the age of sixteen. Years later, Tim would be the inspiration for the band name, A Good Fight, named for the verse in II Timothy 4:7. During his high school and college years, Woods lifeguarded at the Siloam Springs municipal pool and Dawn Hill Country Club, where he also taught private swimming lessons. Upon graduation in 1996, Woods attended Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. He obtained two degrees, an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science in Business.

He continued his education at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and served in the Associated Student Government Senate. He was elected chairman of the College Republicans and stayed involved with the Republican committees of Benton and Washington counties. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Alpha Zeta chapter and was a member of the intramural soccer team for the fraternity. While at the University, Jon completed an internship at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, at which he helped small businesses develop through market research and business development. During this time, his non-college activities included taking private drum, guitar and bass lessons. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing Management from the Sam Walton College of Business at UA-Fayetteville in 2002.

After graduation, Woods took a job in commercial banking in Benton and Washington counties. He co-founded the pop rock band A Good Fight, in 2004, and in 2006, at the age of twenty-nine, was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives and was sworn in on January 8, 2007 as the youngest member of the Arkansas 86th General Assembly.

Music background[edit]

Growing up in the Arkansas Delta, Woods and his brother, Dustin, were heavily influenced by the Memphis Music Scene and events held on Mud Island during the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1993, after the family relocated from the Delta to Siloam Springs, Dustin Woods began to practice the guitar and was named most talented his senior year, 1997, at Siloam Springs High School. Dustin Woods had two bands in high school, and both performed in talent shows in his junior and senior years. Because of Jon Woods' interest in politics and sports, he was not as devoted to music as his brother during his high school years.

In 2004, Jon and Dustin Woods and Sean Marriott formed A Good Fight. After a two-year period with thirty auditions, the Woods' and Merriott agreed to select Eddie Love as lead vocalist in 2006. The band released two albums, The City Could Be Ours By Morning in 2008 and self-titled album A Good Fight in 2010. Both albums had songs featured on several reality shows on MTV and Sony PlayStation's MLB 13: The Show. In a short period of time the band performed at several large venues such as the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.[7]

While in the legislature in 2009, Woods supported HB1837, Act 497, by J. R. Rogers of Walnut Ridge. This Act designated a portion of Highway 67 in Northeastern Arkansas to be called "Rock 'N' Roll Highway". Some of the legendary musicians who regularly traveled on this stretch of highway during the 50's and 60's included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Fats Domino, and Sonny Burgess. The goal of this legislation was to honor Arkansas' Rock 'N' Roll heritage, and to boost tourism and economic development for the region.[8] Woods also advocated, although unsuccessfully, for moving the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame from the Pine Bluff Convention Center to the River Market District in Little Rock so that the hall of fame would gain more exposure. The hall of fame houses personal possessions and items of Arkansas musicians and celebrities.[9]

In 2011, Woods produced The Plaid Jackets first album The New Adventures of the Plaid Jackets Vol 1, which featured the international hit "Adam West is Batman". This song is featured on the documentary, Starring Adam West.[10][11][12][13]

Political career[edit]

Restricted by term limits that then allowed only three terms in the state House of Representatives, Woods decided to run for the Arkansas State Senate for District 7, which includes most of Springdale, Tontitown, Goshen, Elkins, Durham and parts of Fayetteville and all of eastern Washington County.[14] In 2012, Woods was elected to the Arkansas State Senate. In 2015, Woods received an award from the American Red Cross for performing life saving CPR on a visitor to the Arkansas State Capitol.[15][16]

Arkansas House of Representatives 2007-2013[edit]

2007-2009 86th General Assembly[edit]

During his first term he showed his ability to bring people of differing points of view together by making Arkansas' first Umbilical Cord Blood Bank a reality. This institution harvests primitive stem cells from umbilical cords,[17] helping advance stem cell research without abandoning his pro-life convictions. Along with Senator Johnny Key, Woods was awarded the Invest in Life award for his work on the project.[18][19]

2009-2011 87th General Assembly[edit]

In his second term during the 87th General Assembly in 2009, he became the chair of the technology committee,[20] an unheard of feat for a second term member from the minority party. He sponsored legislation that helped amend the Arkansas State Constitution granting the citizens of Arkansas the right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife.[21] It was referred to the voters in 2010 where it passed with 612,495 votes or 82.78% of the vote with 127,444 or 17.22% voting against.[22]

2011-2013 88th General Assembly[edit]

In his third and final term in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the 88th General Assembly in 2011, Woods took on sex offenders, increasing the penalties for sex crimes[23] and expanding notification to the public about sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.[24] He also sponsored legislation to create the Office of Health Information Technology to implement electronic health records in Arkansas[25] and co-sponsored legislation to create a state sales tax holiday weekend for families to buy school supplies.[26]

Arkansas State Senate 2013-2017[edit]

2013-2015 89th General Assembly[edit]

Woods served on the Senate Insurance and Commerce, Joint Performance Review, Public Retirement & Social Security Programs, and Judiciary committees as well as the Arkansas Legislative Council.[27] Woods sponsored Carter's Law in 2013, creating a comprehensive program of education regarding shaken baby syndrome.[28]

2015-2017 90th General Assembly[edit]

In the 90th General Assembly Woods earned the highest civilian recognition from the Arkansas National Guard, and referred his third and fourth ballot measures to the voters.[29]

Political Investigations[edit]

Complaint Dismissed[edit]

In March 2016, Jeff Oland of Farmington, Arkansas filed a complaint with the Arkansas Ethics Commission against then State Senator Jon Woods.[30] Oland accused then State Senator Jon Woods of coordinating mailers from his previous 2012-election campaign with a conservative organization called Conservative Arkansas PAC. Oland's complaint triggered an investigation by the Arkansas Ethics Commission. After more than a dozen interviews and reviewing all the evidence, the Ethics Commission determined that there had been no violations and no laws broken. In May 2016, the Ethics Commission voted 3-0 to dismiss Mr. Oland's complaint against Woods.[31]

Wire Fraud, Honest Services Fraud, Money Laundering[edit]

On March 1, 2017, Woods was indicted for his alleged collusion in a kickback scheme involving Oren Paris, III, president of Ecclesia College (a Christian college), and Randell Shelton, Jr. Woods' attorney, Patrick Benca, has denied the allegations.[32][33]

The trial date has been delayed several times and was most recently delayed due to the destruction of evidence by FBI agent Robert Cessario. According to his own court testimony, Cessario wiped his undercover computer clean on three separate occasions since the investigation began.[34][35][36] He had it wiped once professionally, then wiped it at least twice more himself.[37][38] In December, 2017 he was removed from the case and is under investigation by the Office of Inspector General, according to court documents, and may be facing criminal prosecution.[39]

FBI Computer "Wiped Three Times"[edit]

Two days of pretrial hearings, January 25 and 26, 2018, laid out in detail the circumstances under which the FBI (Cessario's) computer was used to collect copies of the audio files recorded covertly by former State Representative Micah Neal.[40] Mr. Neal has denied that the government asked him to conduct the undercover audio recordings and testified that the "pen" used as the recording device was his idea.[41] However, the FBI agent improperly wiped his laptop sometime in early 2017, December 4, 2017 and then wiped it again December 7, 2017. The erasing of the files cast doubt on whether a true copy of all the files was ever provided to the defense or if the FBI had in fact requested Micah Neal conduct the recordings.[42] Thirty nine audio recordings were provided to the defense in April, 2017. Gaps in the timeline of the recordings were discovered by the defense, which led them to request that the U.S. Attorney turn over ALL of the audio recordings. This request resulted in the U.S. Attorney finding an additional 79 audio recordings in November 2017.[43] These audios contained recordings of many different people.[44] The words Mr. Neal himself used in these recordings is possibly evidence that he was actually doing the recordings on behalf of the government.[45] Upon cross examination of why FBI agent Robert Cessario wiped his laptop, the agent said it was because the government owned laptop contained his personal medical records and he didn't want those to become public. Defense attorney Patrick Benca pointed out that Robert Cessario plans a medical malpractice suit that will make his medical issues public record anyway and the excuse of wiping the laptop to prevent medical records from being made public doesn't pass the smell test. FBI agent Robert Cessario acknowledged that he does plan on suing his doctor, but said any lawsuit he files is unlikely to get the attention the Woods case has received.[46]

"Do you think what you did was proper?" asked Chad Atwell, attorney for one of Woods' co-defendants. "No. I should not have done that," Cessario replied.[47]

Micah Neal Law Firm Computer "Crashed"[edit]

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks wondered aloud from the bench Friday, January 26, 2018, why attorneys in the case did not get pristine copies from the computer in the law office of Neal's attorney, Shane Wilkinson of Bentonville, Arkansas.[48]

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser then told Judge Brooks that late Thursday, January 25, 2018, the FBI sent a computer forensics examiner to Shane Wilkinson's office to make copies of specific files. Mr. Elser then submitted a flash drive to the court which he said contained those specific files. However, upon cross-examination (by the defense) of the expert who collected the copies, it was only then revealed that the files were not taken from the law firm's original hard drive that had stored the audio directly from Neal. The expert had been informed by Mr. Wilkinson's paralegal, Karri Layton, that the hard drive crashed on December 27, 2017, and the whole computer had been replaced, which gives the appearance of a coverup between Micah Neal's attorney Shane Wilkinson and the FBI and the Department of Justice.[49]

Defense Attorney Chad Atwell of Fayetteville conducted the cross-examination of FBI computer forensics examiner, Rebecca Passmore. It was during this lengthy cross examination that Ms. Passmore revealed the Dec. 27 crash and that the original hard drive was nowhere to be found. "I am at a loss for words," Atwell said, when asked for comment after the hearing. "Our pristine copy just went up in smoke," said defense attorney Shelly Koehler of Fayetteville.[50]

It was ordered by the court that an investigation be conducted on Feb. 7, 2018, with the help of FBI computer forensics expert, Amy Corrigan, to search for the original hard drive to Wilkinson's law office computer. It was later revealed that attorney Shane Wilkinson had his hard drive replaced at Megabyte in Bentonville, Arkansas and that Megabyte had backed up his hard drive. Once the backup was reviewed an additional audio was recovered that the DOJ and defense had never heard. In all, 39 audios were given to the defense in April 2017, 79 additional audios in November 2017, and one audio was discovered in February 2018 for a total of 119 audio files (140 hours) which were covertly recorded by Micah Neal.[51]


Woods of Springdale, Arkansas, was accused of soliciting and accepting kickbacks for the distribution of government funds. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, twelve counts of wire fraud, and money laundering.[52] Woods, a Republican, was sentenced by Judge Timothy Brooks, a former President Obama appointee, to 220 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.6 million in restitution on September 6, 2018.[53] Brooks ordered Woods to serve less than the Federal sentencing guidelines, which called for a term between 324–405 months.[54]

Appeal to the Eighth Circuit[edit]

Woods plans to file his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.[55]

Election history[edit]

Arkansas State Senate District 7 Nov 6, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jon Woods 15,110 64.76
Democratic Diana Gonzales Worthen 8,221 35.24
Arkansas State Senate District 7 Primary May 22, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jon Woods 2,784 51.58
Republican Bill Pritchard 2,613 48.42
State Representative District 093 Primary May 23, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jon Woods 1106 57.16
Republican Kathy McFetridge 829 42.84

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Updated: Former State Sen. Jon Woods, Ecclesia College President Oren Paris III Indicted". Arkansas Business. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  2. ^ "Indictment Woods, Paris, Shelton" (PDF). KUAR. March 2, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  3. ^ May 3, 2018 | Former Arkansas State Senator And Consultant Convicted For Bribery Scheme | Duane (DAK) Kees | Department of Justice | U.S. Attorney’s Office | Western District of Arkansas | [1]
  4. ^ [2] | July 10, 2018 | Sentencing dates set for ex-state senator, other participants in kickback scheme | NWA Democrat-Gazette | [3]
  5. ^ "Sentence in former Arkansas senator's graft case out today". Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  6. ^ "Air Force Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown| Military Times". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  7. ^ Staff, Arkansas Times. "Riverfest 2010 schedule". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  8. ^ "Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67 - Encyclopedia of Arkansas". Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  9. ^ Tarpley, John. "Legislation filed to move Ark. Entertainers Hall of Fame". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  10. ^ AKA:NerdFist (2013-06-09), A NerdFisted Music Video: The Plaid Jackets, "Adam West Is Batman" (A Tribute to Adam West)., retrieved 2017-07-11
  11. ^ The Plaid Jackets, Adam West is Batman, retrieved 2017-07-11
  12. ^ "The Plaid Jackets find their place on the Comic Con circut, meet their idols - THE IDLE CLASS". THE IDLE CLASS. 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  13. ^ "Plaid Jackets Are No Joke, But Funny | The Free Weekly". Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  14. ^ "Welcome to My Campaign Website!". Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  15. ^ "Arkansas Senator Saves Life at Capitol with CPR".
  16. ^ "Red Cross To Honor Locals Credited With Saving Lives".
  17. ^ "HB 2416". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  19. ^ "Arkansas Senate". Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  20. ^ "ADVANCED COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY - JOINT". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  21. ^ "SJR3". Arkansas Stale Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  22. ^ "Election Results". Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  23. ^ "HB 1015". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  24. ^ "HB 1009". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  25. ^ "HB 1905". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  26. ^ "HB 1369". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  27. ^ Woods, Jon. "Member Profile". Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  28. ^ "Carter's Law" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Arkansas Removal of Cap on State-Issued Bonds, Issue 3 (2016) - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  30. ^ Ramsey, David. "Ethics complaint filed against lawmakers and PAC who backed private option". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  31. ^ " - Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  32. ^ "Jon Woods indictment | NWAonline". Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  33. ^ Brantley, Max. "Jon Woods' attorney says he's innocent and will fight charges". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  34. ^ Weiss, Jamie (2018-01-28). "Jon Woods' defense asks for dismissal after FBI agent deletes hard drive". KHBS. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  35. ^ Press, Associated. "FBI agent admits error in ex-senator corruption case". KATV. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  36. ^ "Documents: FBI Laptop in Woods' Trial Was 'Wiped'". NWAHOMEPAGE. 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  37. ^ Hughey, Haley (2018-01-26). "FBI Agent who Destroyed Evidence in the Jon Wood's Trial Takes the Stand". NWAHOMEPAGE. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  38. ^, The Washington Times. "FBI agent admits error in ex-senator corruption case". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  39. ^ Brantley, Max. "Judge refuses to dismiss corruption case against former Sen. Jon Woods; says FBI agent could face charges for mishandling potential evidence". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  40. ^ "Secret recordings included many officials, Neal testifies". Arkansas Online. 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  41. ^ Brantley, Max. "Micah Neal's tape recorder was running with colleagues". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  42. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker says recordings were his idea, not FBI's". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  43. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker's corruption trial delayed after tapes turn up". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  44. ^ Brantley, Max. "Micah Neal's tape recorder was running with colleagues". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  45. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker says recordings were his idea, not FBI's". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  46. ^ "FBI agent admits error in Woods corruption case". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  47. ^ "FBI agent admits error in Woods corruption case". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  48. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker says recordings were his idea, not FBI's". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  49. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker says recordings were his idea, not FBI's". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  50. ^ "Former Arkansas lawmaker says recordings were his idea, not FBI's". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  51. ^ "All recordings found in Woods' corruption case, FBI says". Arkansas Online. 2018-02-15. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
  52. ^ Kees, Duane (May 3, 2018). "Former Arkansas State Senator And Consultant Convicted For Bribery Scheme". Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Arkansas.
  53. ^ "Former Arkansas State Senator Sentenced To 220 Months In Federal Prison For Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud And Money". 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  54. ^ Cook, Marty; Turner, Lance (September 5, 2018). "Update: Jon Woods Sentenced to 220 Months in Prison for Kickback Scheme". Arkansas Business. Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  55. ^ "Sentence in former Arkansas senator's graft case out today". Retrieved 2018-09-08.