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Arkansas lawmaker, college president charged in kickback scheme

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Arkansas state senator and a college president have been charged in a kickback scheme in which thousands of dollars in bribes were paid to lawmakers who directed state funds to two non-profit groups, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Jonathan Woods, 39, an Arkansas state senator from 2013 to 2017, was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Oren Paris III, 49, the president of Ecclesia College, was charged with wire fraud and mail fraud, as was a third man, Randell Shelton Jr., 37, the department said.

Woods is accused of directing some $600,000 in Arkansas general improvement funds to two non-profits and receiving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from officials at the groups, including Paris, the Justice Department said. Another lawmaker already has pleaded guilty in the case, it said.

(Reporting by David Alexander)

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