On Monday, Sept. 30 Eudora Mayor Travis Collins pled no contest to two misdemeanor counts in Chicot County Circuit Court in Lake Village. As a result of this plea, Collins has resigned from his positions as mayor and as board member of Lakeside School District, according to city hall’s Jonathan Patrick.
Patrick said that a special meeting of the Eudora city council was set up for today (Wednesday). There are three stated purposes for the special meeting: to vote to accept Collins’s resignation, to vote on an interim mayor, and to arrange for a special election for a new mayor.
Final charges against Collins were for Theft of Property less than or equal to $1,000 and Falsifying Business Records. For the no-contest plea, the state recommended 12 months suspended imposition of sentence for both charges to run concurrently.
The original charges were affected May 8 when sheriff’s deputies from Chicot County served a criminal summons on Collins, Sheriff Ron Nichols said at that time.
The summons, issued by the Tenth District prosecuting attorney, was the result of a letter written to Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, Public Integrity Division by former Eudora City Attorney Katie Harris-Elliott.
The letter, dated Feb. 1, requested an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into an allegedly unaccounted for sum of money missing from the sale of scrap metal by the city.
According to the Probable Cause Affidavit filed by Special Agent Rick Newton of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, Collins, who was elected mayor last November and took office on January first of this year, was at that time charged under Statute 5-36-103, Theft of Property, a Class D Felony and Statute 7-6-102(c), Political Practice Pledge Falsification, also a Class D Felony.
The first count involved the alleged theft of $1,036.50 of city money received from Livingston Pecan and Metal for the sale of scrap metal. According to Newton’s report, there were two transactions involving the sale of scrap metal. The first, on Jan. 7, resulted in the sale amount of $1,451.60 that was turned into the water department clerk that day, as shown by receipts for the transaction.
The following day, records show, another load was taken over to Livingston’s and sold for the $1,036. 50. An internal investigation some time later showed that the funds from the second trip never made it to the clerk for deposit in the city account, according to the letter from Harris-Elliott.
In a March 12 interview with Newton, Collins allegedly said that he did sell a load of scrap metal that included a Dodge Charger police car belonging to the City of Eudora on Jan. 8. Mayor Collins also allegedly stated in the interview that he had not turned in the proceeds from that sale and that he had spent some of the funds for personal use.
The funds were recorded as being paid back to the city clerk on March 19, 70 days after the transaction.
During the initial investigation, it was found that Collins had a felony conviction in Saline County in 1999 when he pled guilty to a felony hot check violation, a Class C Felony.
A candidate for office who has had a felony may run for office if that felony has been expunged, according to Newton’s report, however, the investigation found no record of Collins’ felony being expunged.
The report continued stating that the political practice pledge submitted by Collins to run for mayor repeatedly said he had never been convicted of a felony in the State of Arkansas or any other jurisdiction.
It also claimed that during the 2018 election cycle, Collins filed a political practice pledge to run for a position on the Lake Village School Board. The Probable Cause Affidavit shows that pledge too claimed there were no felony convictions against him.