Warren, Arkansas – Former Warren part-time Fire Chief and former treasurer of the Arkansas Court Reporters Association Michael Ashcraft pled guilty Friday, January 21, 2022 to theft of property, a Class D felony offense, stemming from charges filed by the Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, which accused Ashcraft of manipulating, misappropriating, and misusing membership funds in excess of $100,000, without the knowledge or permission of the Arkansas Court Reporters association board members or association membership.
Judge Grisham Phillips presided in the case as Ashcraft pled guilty and was sentenced to 36 months unsupervised probation. The former Warren Fire Chief and Arkansas Court Reporters Association treasurer agreed to pay $18,122.76 in restitution. In addition to that amount, Ashcraft will be required to pay $165 in court costs, $350 in fines, and a $250 DNA sample fee.
Ashcraft will be allowed to make the payments in installments. A $10 monthly installment fee to the Sheriff’s office will be required each month that a cost and fine balance remains.
Ashcraft pled guilty to one count. The theft of property took place between January 1, 2015 and July 1, 2018.
The guilty plea was a negotiated plea.
The charges Ashcraft was charged with, and the guilty plea which followed, had no association with his position at the time as Warren’s Fire Chief.
January 25, 2022 update: Arkansas’s Attorney General Leslie Rutledge put out her own press release regarding this case. See it below:
Rutledge: State Employee Convicted for Misusing Over $100,000 from Arkansas Court Reporters Association
Little Rock, Arkansas – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the conviction of court reporter Michael Ashcraft, an Arkansas State employee, of a class D felony theft. From January 2015 to June 2018, Ashcraft manipulated, misappropriated and misused membership funds in excess of $100,000 without the knowledge or permission of the Arkansas Court Reporters Association board members or association membership. Ashcraft was sentenced to three years unsupervised probation and must pay restitution to the association as well as restitution to the State.
“Ashcraft was in a position of trust and used his position to steal from the taxpayers of Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is a horrible act and this conviction will ensure Ashcraft will pay back every dollar he stole.”
Ashcraft was treasurer of the Arkansas Court Reporters Association organization for twelve years. As treasurer, Ashcraft had full and complete access to association membership funds generated by membership dues. An audit found that Ashcraft took advantage of his position as treasurer and displayed a continuing course of conduct by fraudulently using association membership funds by comingling legitimate association purchases with his own personal purchases and purchases for others.
After an extensive and thorough investigation, Agents with the Public Integrity Division of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office sought and received a warrant of arrest for Ashcraft, who was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of Theft of Property, a class B Felony. In March 2021, Ashcraft turned himself in to authorities in Bradley County and was released on a $15,000 bond.