Former UCA President Luther B. Hardin was sentenced Monday to five years probation and 1,000 hours community service, but no jail time for wire fraud and money laundering.
U.S. District Court Judge James Moody sentenced Hardin in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, in Little Rock.
Hardin pleaded guilty in March to the charges, which were based on Hardin’s forging of a memo to the UCA Board of Trustees in April 2008. The memo stated it was legal for Hardin to receive a $300,000 package of deferred compensation of which he was not supposed to receive until 2010.
Hardin’s intent was to use the money to pay off gambling debts, which allegedly accrued in Tunica, Miss.
Hardin faced up to 30 years in prison.
Hardin’s attorney Chuck Banks asked that the sentence be “sufficient but not greater than necessary.”
Banks made a plea argument stating facts about Hardin having lived a good life. Banks supported it with character letters written by Hardin’s friends and family.
The sentence was five years of probation on each count to be served concurrently. Hardin is to serve 200 hours of community service for each year he is on probation. He is also to continue his participation in Gamblers Anonymous. He cannot be employed anywhere that is FDIC accredited and he must disclose all of his financial information to a probation officer. There was no fine and Hardin will not be subjected to drug testing, but he does have to have his DNA tested. Moody suggested that Hardin teach classes on gambling and ethics, but a probation officer will make the decision about that.
The Hardin’s forged memo was made to look as though three UCA administrators had written it. Due to Hardin being paid at the salary cap mandated by the state, the money was supposed to come from private funds. However, the money ended up coming from public funds.
The officials who the memo was made to look like it came from are Vice President of Administration Jack Gillean, who is now chief of staff, former Vice President for Finance Paul McLendon and former Executive Vice President Barbara Anderson.
Leniency was based on Hardin’s repayment of the bonus money and that he joined Gamblers Anonymous. It also is based on Hardin’s cooperation with the FBI on an ongoing criminal investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris would not comment on the nature of that investigation.
Moody said, “I understand that some might think probation is too lenient.”
He also said Hardin was “remorseful and humiliated” and “not likely to commit another crime.”
Harris did not make a statement against the sentencing. He said Hardin is “likeable,” and “a felony conviction and losing his law license” is enough punishment.
Hardin’s wife, Mary; son, Scott; and daughter, Mallory, joined Hardin in court.
Hardin spoke before sentencing and said, “I stand humble beyond words. I have remorse in my heart that transcends anything that can be written.”
Hardin said his gambling addiction began 12 years ago while on vacation with his family.
He said, “I’m very sorry this conduct is not up to the standards I hold. I apologize to UCA, family and friends …. If the court does believe in life well lived, I humbly and respectfully ask for consideration …; any decision I humbly accept.”
After his sentencing, Hardin had no comment.
Banks said he was “grateful and pleased” with the outcome.