Update: Complaint Says Martha Shoffner Accepted $6,000 Payment from Broker

by Gwen Moritz and Lance Turner  on Monday, May. 20, 2013 1:04 pm  

Martha Shoffner, in this file photo from December. (Photo by AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday alleges that Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner accepted a $6,000 payment from a bond broker working with the FBI, which recorded the transaction and arrested her at her Newport home on Saturday. 

According to the criminal complaint, the FBI interviewed Shoffner after she accepted the payment, and she admitted accepting multiple $6,000 payments. The complaint says Shoffner "knew it was wrong to accept the payment."

FBI agents arrested Shoffner Saturday for violating the Hobbs Act, a federal law that is often cited in cases of official corruption, and the criminal complaint describes he offense as "extortion under color of official right."

(View the Complaint: Click here to download a PDF of the complaint.)

Shoffner, 68, had been in Pulaski County jail since Saturday night. On Monday, she was informed of the charges against her by U.S. District Court Magistrate H. David Young of Arkansas' Eastern District.

At the brief, 10-minute hearing, Shoffner wore a black pantsuit and appeared tired. She did not enter a plea, and the court will hold a formal arraignment at a later date. Chuck Banks of Little Rock, Shoffner's attorney for the hearing, told The Associated Press that she will enter a not guilty plea at the appropriate time.

"I'm going to send her home right now. We're going to get some rest, and I will talk to her this afternoon about preparing her defense," Banks told the AP. "This has been a very, very tough proceeding for her and a tough weekend."

Shoffner, who agreed to surrender her passport, was released on her own recognizance, and U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said his office did not consider her to be a flight risk. She told reporters outside the courthouse that will not resign.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jana Harris represented the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Multiple Payments

The criminal complaint, a signed affadavit by FBI Special Agent Richard McLain, was released ahead of Shoffner's court appearance and alleges multiple payments to Shoffner by a broker who had done business with the Arkansas Treasurer's Office. The broker, identified in the complaint as "Confidential Human Source 1," has been working as a witness for the FBI and granted immunity from prosecution by the federal government.

At a press conference early Monday afternoon, Thyer said "it was not an easy decision" to grant immunity, but it was a necessity because "we could not be here today" if neither the broker nor Shoffner had talked.

 

 

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