Ex-lawmaker to remain in jail

Jeremy Hutchinson, the admitted felon and jailed ex-lawmaker facing a potential federal prison sentence at the end of the month, will remain behind bars in Little Rock indefinitely for his $629,898 in arrears on his child support and other financial obligations owed to his children and former wife from the couple's 2011 divorce.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday denied Hutchinson's bid for immediate release from the divorce-court order that put him in the Pulaski County jail on Dec. 29 for failing to live up to the conditions of his 2011 divorce, which ended his 12½-year marriage. The 48-year-old father of three was found in contempt and ordered jailed until he pays $524,000.

Hutchinson, 48, says he doesn't have the money and filed for bankruptcy the day after he was jailed, an admission of insolvency that his lawyer said should be grounds for his immediate release without having to pay.

However, Hutchinson, the son of a former U.S. senator and nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has not been able to sway the divorce court to set him free, and his lawyers have withdrawn a petition asking the federal bankruptcy judge to release him. Also his bankruptcy application, which states he owes at most $500,000, with assets of $50,000, has been found to be incomplete, with that federal court giving him until Jan. 13 to complete the petition.

In an unsigned order on Friday, the state Supreme Court declined to immediately intervene on Hutchinson's behalf but promised to fast-track his release petition. The one-page order doesn't say how quickly the justices will move. On Feb. 3, Hutchinson, a Republican who served two terms each in the state House and Senate, is due for sentencing on federal bribery and tax fraud charges he pleaded guilty to related to a two-state Medicaid fraud scheme. He's expected to face a substantial fine, if not prison time.

His ex-wife challenged his appeal of the contempt ruling to the state Supreme Court, noting that the divorce-court judge found that the twice-married Hutchinson had deliberately shirked his financial obligations to his children, despite having the means to pay them.

His child support arrears were $515,579, with the judge noting he had not made any significant payment towards them in more than four years. He'd also not paid for his children's health insurance and college tuition like he'd promised to. His child support is $10,500 per month but he paid only $300 in 2022, and $9,422 since September 2018, court filings show. He's also been ordered to pay $51,000 to cover his former spouse's legal fees.

Stephanie Hutchinson brought him back to divorce court in Little Rock in 2021 over his divorce debts and now describes him as living a luxurious lifestyle while neglecting his financial duties to his children. That includes installing a $41,000 pool at his home, paying for eye surgery for both himself and his wife and giving her $20,000.

Stephanie Hutchinson further cites instances in which he was paid fees of $92,111 and $155,435 since 2018 but still barely put any money towards his children.