Update: Martha Shoffner Pleads Not Guilty, Trial Set for July 29

by Mark Friedman and Lance Turner  on Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013 10:14 am  

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

In hearing that lasted less than five minutes on Thursday, former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner pleaded not guilty to 14 federal counts of extortion and bribery.

The court set her trial for July 29 in front of U.S. District Judge J. Leon Holmes. The prosecution's case is expected to take four days. 

Shoffner was arrested May 18 and charged with a single federal count of extortion as investigators alleged she accepted $36,000 in payments from a broker who did business with her office. She resigned as treasurer three days later.

Shoffner planned to plead guilty at a hearing on May 31. But in an unexpected move, she withdrew the guilty plea saying she didn't demand the bribes she admitted taking. That led to U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer taking the case to a grand jury, resulting in 14 federal counts on June 5.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, reporters asked Shoffner why she didn't plead guilty at her May hearing.

"There were certain issues that were brought up that I couldn't plead to the first time," she said. Shoffner said she looks forward to going to trial.



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