CONWAY — A former University of Central Arkansas president pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge related to destroying a public document at the university in 2011.
Allen Meadors pleaded guilty of violating the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, a lesser misdemeanor charge than his original charge of tampering with a public record, Prosecutor Cody Hiland said Monday. The plea deal allowed Meadors to end litigation and pay a $250 fine.
Meadors had faced up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
"What we wanted was some accountability for destroying a document that was related to the FOI," Hiland said.
Meadors’ charge stemmed from a long-running investigation into possible mishandling of a "grant" proposed by UCA food vendor Aramark that was placed before trustees in 2011. A $700,000 proposal to further renovations of the UCA president’s residence was presented without strings attached by then Board of Trustees Chairman Scott Roussel.
In the Aug. 12, 2011, letter, Aramark’s Brad Crosson wrote to Newton about an "unrestricted grant" to renovate the president’s home. In exchange, the company asked UCA to agree to "an extension of our contract by seven years, to May 31, 2019, and request buyback protection."
Vice President for Finance and Administration Diane Newton told news outlets previously that Meadors asked her to destroy the letter.
Meadors resigned in September 2012 after trustees learned that Aramark’s offer was contingent upon a seven-year contractual agreement in which Aramark would be UCA’s sole food service provider. UCA agreed to pay Meadors more than $500,000 and another $225,325 from separate funds to buy out the remainder of his contract. Roussel resigned under pressure in May, but he will not be charged with any crime, Hiland said previously.
UCA trustees approved a 10-year food service agreement with Aramark in April.
Meadors did not respond to a query sent via an online social networking website Monday. His attorney, Tim Dudley of Little Rock, did not return a message left at his office Monday seeking comment.
Meadors’ charge is the second time in the past four years a former UCA president has been charged with wrongdoing. He is also the second former UCA official charged with a crime this year.
Former Chief of Staff Jack Gillean is charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor. Prosecutors say he gave a student his grand master key to steal exams on the university campus and for a false financial statement, according to an affidavit filed in October. Gillean’s case is ongoing and was continued during a hearing Monday, Hiland said.
UCA spokesman Jeff Pitchford said Monday current President Tom Courtway has no comment on the resolution of Meadors’ case.