Judge surrenders to police
Saline County authority charged with felony tax evasion
Saline County Circuit Judge Bobby McCallister surrendered to state police Thursday afternoon, nearly two days after he was charged with felony tax evasion.
Online records show McCallister, 52, was booked into the Saline County jail about 3:20 p.m. David Gibbons, a specially appointed prosecutor in the case, said the judge was released on his own recognizance.
On Tuesday, Gibbons charged McCallister with four counts of felony tax evasion. The judge is accused of failing to file or pay state income taxes in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Each of the four felony counts carries a possible sentence of up to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
When a warrant was issued for his arrest Tuesday afternoon, McCallister was registered to attend a training conference outside Washington.
Gibbons said early Thursday he didn’t know when McCallister returned to Arkansas, but he expected the judge to surrender himself Thursday afternoon.
The judge didn’t plead to the charges Thursday. That will happen at a later court arraignment, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, Gibbons said.
McCallister’s attorney, Patrick Benca of Little Rock, directed his office to issue no comment regarding the case.
At the Saline County Courthouse, McCallister’s caseload is being distributed among the building’s other judges, as well as some specially appointed judges, said Circuit Judge Robert Herzfeld, the administrative judge of the 22nd Judicial District.
“We’ve got this week squared away and mostly to the end of the month,” Herzfeld said. Anyone with cases scheduled in McCallister’s court should expect a call to explain how to proceed.
The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission will meet today to decide whether to seek a temporary suspension with pay for McCallister from the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Before criminal charges were filed, McCallister was accused of misconduct by the commission, which released portions of court documents in which McCallister admitted not paying most of his federal taxes over a roughly 20-year period.
The court records originated from McCallister’s ongoing divorce case from his estranged wife. In transcripts from the case, McCallister says he stopped paying federal income taxes in 1995, after developing money problems.
From that year until his wife filed for divorce in 2014, McCallister said he filed only two federal tax returns for the couple, according to the transcripts.
In an affidavit released along with the charges against McCallister, Arkansas State Police Special Agent Joe Pickett wrote a review of state tax records found McCallister filed only two individual state tax returns for tax years between 2005 and 2016.
McCallister became a circuit court judge in 2009, earning an annual salary of $160,000.
His caseload includes juvenile, family, probate and drug court, as well as criminal and some civil cases, according to the Saline County website.
McCallister’s trip earlier this week to attend the National Association of Drug Court Professionals conference was paid for at least in part from the state’s drug court fund, which receives money from fees paid in the specialty courts, according to Herzfeld.
Former Crittenden County Circuit Judge David Laser has been assigned to serve as a special judge in McCallister’s case.