LITTLE ROCK — A former eastern Arkansas state legislator and his father were sentenced Thursday to three years of probation on federal vote fraud charges to which they pleaded guilty last year.
Hudson Hallum and his father, Kent Hallum, received the sentences in separate hearings in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker also sentenced both men to nine months of home confinement and ordered them to perform 100 hours of community service. She imposed a $20,000 fine on Hudson Hallum and a $10,000 fine on his father.
Hudson Hallum, of Marion, his father and two other men, Phillip Wayne Carter and Sam Malone, were charged with vote fraud in a 2011 special election in which Hudson Hallum, a Democrat, won a House seat that had been vacated by Fred Smith, who had resigned after his conviction on a theft charge. Smith, originally elected as a Democrat, regained the House seat in November 2012 running as a Green Party candidate.
Prosecutors said the four men contacted voters and "assisted" them in voting by absentee ballot. The men gave some voters cash or gifts for voting for Hallum and destroyed the ballots of voters who did not vote for him.
Carter and Malone each received a sentence of three years of probation last month.
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Hudson Hallum, 29, told the judge he understood his actions had violated the public trust.
"During the course of my election, I did some things that were wrong, that broke the law, and I’m terribly sorry for that," he said. "I violated the trust of the people that supported me. I put my friends and family in a terrible position of hurt. I endangered the job of the people that worked for me and put their livelihood at risk."
He added that he had violated "a system in our country that’s in place that puts confidence in our government, and because of me people where I live, they don’t have that confidence any more. I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done, and I’m standing before you today accepting full responsibility and ready to accept any consequences for my actions."
Kent Hallum told the judge, "We got involved in this, and I saw what we were doing was wrong. I could have stopped this and I could have saved my son from what happened earlier today and all that we’ve been through. But I am terribly sorry."
Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris, who has overseen the case for U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer, a former state legislator who recused himself from the case, said in a statement Thursday, "The activities of Mr. Hallum and his associates are very disappointing. It erodes the very basis for our democracy."
Under other terms of his sentence, Hudson Hallum is prohibited from drinking alcohol and possessing a firearm. Baker did not restrict Kent Hallum’s use of alcohol.
Both men will be restricted to their homes during their period of confinement when not at work or other places approved in advance by the court, Baker said. Hudson Hallum is a paramedic and Kent Hallum owns a car dealership in Marion.
Kim Felker, who lost to Hudson Hallum in last year’s Democratic primary runoff for his former House seat, attended Thursday’s hearing. She told reporters later she was "surprised" by his sentence of probation.
She said Hudson Hallum’s actions "eroded the confidence in our voters. They have no trust in anyone. It makes our side of the state look like we’re sleazy. There are very many honest, hardworking people in that side of the state, and they were horrified at what happened."