Today Wayne Lee Watkins, 65, of Hardy, Arkansas entered a plea of guilty to Theft in the Sharp County Circuit Court stemming from charges filed by Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce in February of 2007.

The charges involved Watkins fraudulent acceptance of payments on real estate land contracts after foreclosure proceedings had deprived him of ownership of the property. 

            Between the date the charges were filed in February of 2007 and February of 2011, Watkins was a fugitive from justice presumably hiding in Mexico. 

            In February of 2011 Watkins was apprehended by federal marshals in Texas and he was subsequently extradited back to Sharp County.  Since being returned to Sharp County by the Sharp County Sheriff’s Office Watkins has been held in the Sharp County Detention Center for approximately 16 months.

             Pursuant to the terms of the guilty plea entered today Watkins was sentenced to 5 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with an additional 5 years suspended sentence to begin upon his release from prison.  Additionally, he was ordered to repay restitution in the sum of $10,691.02, a $2,500.00 fine, fees and costs. 

            Numerous other victims of Mr. Watkins deceptive practices brought cases to the prosecuting attorney’s office back when these allegations first arose and all but one of those cases were determined to be civil in nature.  It is the understanding of this office that those cases were taken up by the Attorney General’s office.