Judge sur­ren­ders to po­lice

Saline County author­ity charged with felony tax eva­sion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - JOHN MORITZ

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.

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