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Ex-Treasurer Shoffner found guilty in bribery, extortion case

By ArkansasOnline

This article was originally published March 11, 2014 at 7:20 a.m. Updated March 11, 2014 at 6:52 p.m.

martha-shoffner-former-state-treasurer-leaves-with-her-attorney-charles-chuck-banks-after-she-was-found-guilty-in-her-bribery-and-extortion-trial-at-the-federal-courthouse-in-little-rock-tuesday

Martha Shoffner, former state Treasurer, leaves with her attorney Charles "Chuck" Banks after she was found guilty in her bribery and extortion trial at the Federal Courthouse in Little Rock Tuesday.

Shoffner found guilty on bribery, extortion charges

Former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner was convicted on charges of bribery and extortion on Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Little Rock. (By David Harten)
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5:57 p.m. UPDATE:

Former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner has been found guilty on all 14 counts of bribery and extortion stemming from illegal payments she received for steering business toward a Russellville-based broker.

After nearly four hours of deliberation Tuesday afternoon, the jury of five men and seven women found Shoffner guilty of six counts of extortion, one count of attempted extortion and seven counts of bribery.

Shoffner declined to comment on the verdict as she left the courthouse.

Sentencing will occur after Shoffner's second trial, scheduled to begin March 31, for 10 counts of mail fraud.

Shoffner was accused of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and campaign contributions in exchange for steering state bond business to broker Steele Stephens.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.

EARLIER:

The jury has begun its deliberations in the bribery and extortion trial of former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner.

The panel of five men and seven women retired to the jury room shortly before 2 p.m. after hearing closing arguments in the federal trial before U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes.

Defense attorney Charles "Chuck" Banks called into question Tuesday afternoon the credibility of a few of the prosecution's witnesses, namely Russellville broker Steele Stephens, who Banks said seemed to sympathize with Shoffner despite his decision to cooperate with federal authorities.

"If you follow the law ... then I'm not going to have to stand here and beg for a verdict," Banks said. "Because I believe that Martha will be fine, regardless."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Mazzanti told the jury that while the defense had said that no money was lost by the state in the dealings between Shoffner and Stephens — a claim Mazzanti also said wasn't true — that wasn't the issue at hand. The issue, Mazzanti said, is the money Shoffner is accused of taking from Stephens.

"The court asks you to use common sense. This is not a coincidence," Mazzanti said, referencing the amount of business that was steered in Stephens' direction while he was connected to Shoffner.

If convicted, Shoffner could serve up to 20 years in prison on seven counts each of extortion and bribery.

Shoffner is accused of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and campaign contributions in exchange for steering state bond business to broker Steele Stephens.

Stephens, who isn't connected to the well-known Stephens Inc. investment firm, testified Monday that he gave Shoffner the money because he “felt sorry for her" and “thought she needed it,” acknowledging he also believed it would "improve [his] chances with her," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Stephens received immunity from prosecution in exchange for working with the government and testifying against Shoffner. Jurors on Monday watched a video secretly recorded while Stephens was cooperating with the FBI showing him delivering an apple pie with $6,000 in cash tucked into the corner of its box.

Stephens, who testified he made about $2.5 million in commissions off the state bonds, said he had delivered identical bribes to Shoffner twice before.

Shoffner resigned from her post about a week after her arrest last May.

Comments on: Ex-Treasurer Shoffner found guilty in bribery, extortion case

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maingear says... March 11, 2014 at 12:24 p.m.

Her complete lack of ethics is obvious. Her appearance before an ethics committee will do nothing to distract from the obvious abuse of a public trust and criminal activity.

From what I have seen, there is absolutely no remorse other than the fact she was caught.

( | suggest removal )

SRBROTHERINLAW says... March 11, 2014 at 1:25 p.m.

MAINGEAR....THAT IS STANDARD POLITICIAN REMORSE (ONLY IF CAUGHT)

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SRBROTHERINLAW says... March 11, 2014 at 1:36 p.m.

WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN SHOFFNER'S PICTURE IN THE RIGHT TO KNOW MUG SHOTS?

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rhood says... March 11, 2014 at 2:20 p.m.

The Right2Know database currently features mug shots from Pulaski, Saline, Garland and Faulkner counties. Shoffner was arrested in Jackson County.

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gshogan says... March 11, 2014 at 3 p.m.

Once again, another corrupt politican that believes they are above the law. I am sick of these crooked and corrupt policticans. Throw the book at her and make an example out of her. Maybe other politicans will wake up and realize they are for the PEOPLE, not for their own gain. Some how we the people need to get the word out to politicans, people are sick of the lack of ethics in political offices.

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LevyRat says... March 11, 2014 at 3:29 p.m.

JUST ANOTHER LYING, CHEATING, TAX AND SPEND LIBERAL DEMOCRAT!

THIS OLD CRONE MAKES ME SICK!

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oldude says... March 11, 2014 at 4:43 p.m.

Give her a place to live for 10 years like the womens prison!

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oldude says... March 11, 2014 at 4:46 p.m.

Oh by the way send Stevens butt to the joint also and get the taxpayers money back!

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emax says... March 11, 2014 at 5:58 p.m.

The broker makes $2.5 mil and she makes $36K?? Boy, she sure works cheap!!

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Populist says... March 11, 2014 at 6:07 p.m.

Levyrat,

What makes you think she is liberal? I've seen nothing to support that proposition. Also, liberals are no more likely to accept bribes than any other politician.

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