Judge denies Tucker credit
ashIn the ongoing case with former Monticello Mayor Zack Tucker, Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson denied Tucker’s request for an $8,327.28 credit Monday, stating that Tucker had charged multiple expenses to a personal credit card, and the former Mayor will have to pay the entire $22,500 in restitution— and $165 in court costs.
Tucker resigned in January after being charged with abuse of offi ce and tampering with public record in regards to his dealings with the 2015 Forestry Festival.
A plea bargain was struck between Tucker and the state of Arkansas that if he were to pay the entire $22,500 in one lump sum, he could plead guilty to the lesser misdemeanor charge of abuse of offi ce. If he chose to make payment installments, he would have to plead guilty to a felony charge of tampering with public record in addition to the misdemeanor.
Under either scenario, he would resign from offi ce—which Tucker did in January.
On March 6, Tucker and Hani Hashem, his attorney, petitioned the court to consider $8,327.28 Tucker had charged to a personal credit card to cover festival expenses, including $575.28 for tiaras and a $3,120 charge for advertising costs to the Advance-Monticellonian. Tucker also requested two personal checks be considered, allegedly written to cover the cost of T-shirts in the amounts of $3,122 and $1,510. Gibson requested further paperwork from Tucker and his counsel to prove that the credit card bill had been paid, not just charged.
According to court documents, neither of the checks contained a signature and one check had an account number on the back of the check and the other said “for deposit only.” Tucker’s last communication with the court regarding his plea deal mentioned nothing about the $8,327.28 credit.
After consideration, Gibson ruled to deny Tucker’s request to credit him for the $8,327.28, meaning he will have to pay the entire amount of $22,500 in restitution, since the request for the credit was made after the original plea deal was presented to the Judge in court.
“Mr. Tucker’s motion for offset in the amount of $8,327.28 is denied, because it was not part of the original plea agreement approved by the Court,” Gibson’s ruling read. “Going further, this Court fi nds also that the documents submitted by Mr. Tucker are insuffi cient to justify the offset of $8,327.28. The Court is filing the disposition order which requires Mr. Tucker to pay forthwith the $22,500 restitution to the city of Monticello as part of his plea.”
According to Tucker’s attorney, Tucker has paid the restitution in full and the city of Monticello will be reimbursed. “Mr. Tucker was hoping to be given credit for his personal funds expended on the Forestry Festival,” Hashem said. “The Arkansas State Police Special Agent, responsible for the investigating the matter, testified and confirmed each of the personal expenditures by Mr. Tucker. However, we knew that the requested credits were a discretionary call by the judge. The judge has exercised his discretion and Mr. Tucker has accepted his ruling. True to earlier assurances, Mr. Tucker has paid the restitution, in full. The city of Monticello will be reimbursed the entire $22,500 in funds which were mishandled.
“Mr. Tucker, even though no longer an officeholder, cares deeply about the future of Monticello. As he moves on to his next phase in life, he wishes the new city administration the best.”
Tucker officially pled guilty to a Class B misdemeanor and will be on probation for 90 days.