By Associated Press - Tuesday, June 5, 2018

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A judge has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether former Arkansas Sen. Jake Files has broken any state laws.

Files will be sentenced this month after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges for pocketing state money he obtained for a Fort Smith softball complex project. Prosecutors also allege he pledged a forklift he didn’t own as collateral for a bank loan.

He and his construction company, FFH Construction LLC, have been sued in Sebastian County and elsewhere. But he hasn’t been charged in state court.

Arkansas Prosecutor Coordinator Bob McMahan announced Monday that Jason Barrett would investigate Files to determine whether any state charges are warranted, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported .

Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue filed a motion last week asking that a special prosecutor look into the matter.

“Preliminary allegations of fault or possible criminal conduct have been made to the office of the prosecuting attorney with regards to Jake Files, a former state senator,” Shue said in the motion.

He said there’s a potential conflict of interest if his office were to investigate Files.

Shue’s request comes after he sent a letter in April asking U.S. Attorney Duane “Dak” Kees whether federal officials investigated an $80,000 wire transfer made in 2014 from a nursing home industry executive to Files’ company. Shue asked Kees in the letter whether the transfer was part of the conduct for which Files was being sentenced in federal court.

Shue declined comment Monday on the allegations or the potential conflict of interest.

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