Whitewater Restitution Overturned

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker won't have to pay $1 million in restitution but federal prosecutors will get another chance to prove he owes at least that much.

An 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Monday overturned the restitution portion of Tucker's sentence for conspiring to avoid paying taxes through a sham bankruptcy of a Florida cable TV company.

The case was sent back to federal court in Arkansas for re-sentencing on the restitution issue. The rest of the sentence stands: four years' probation, a $6,000 fine and community service.

Tucker and business partner William J. Marks were indicted in 1995 and accused of conducting the bogus bankruptcy to hide the true value of the cable television business they sold in 1988. A judge later determined unpaid taxes on the deal amounted to $2.9 million

Whitewater prosecutors had asked that Tucker be required to pay $1.45 million, then lowered their request to $1.11 million when U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner expressed reluctance.

The wide difference, calculated by using different tax laws, was the chief point of contention during the first sentencing hearing and a key point in the appeals court's reversal.

The panel said prosecutors presented no evidence, beyond a pre-sentencing report, of the tax loss on which it based its restitution request.

Tucker's plea agreement marked his second conviction on a federal crime. He served 18 months' home detention after being convicted of fraud and conspiracy at a trial with James and Susan McDougal, President Clinton's former business partners.

He is appealing the conviction, claiming juror bias against him.