Trigger Alerts: The Best & Worst of 2013

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

During the first week of January, Arkansas Business broke the news that Shoffner was the subject of a criminal probe for sending an inordinate amount of state bond business to the father-son team.

With this backdrop, Shoffner picked an especially bad time to trust an alleged co-conspirator and continue to accept payoffs. Her arrest on May 18 after receiving — in an apple pie box, no less — $6,000 in cash supplied by Uncle Sam as part of a sting underscored the head-shaking badness of it all.

Best Time To Go Down Swinging

The FBI said it couldn’t make the case against Shoffner without the aid of an unidentified co-conspirator, which required an immunity deal. Nonetheless, the scales of justice were tipped in a heavily unbalanced way.

Shoffner received alleged bribes measured in tens of thousands of dollars. Steele and Steve Stephens received profits measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the allegedly criminal relationship.

She blew off a plea bargain that was probably in her own best interest, but at least the whole mess will get a public airing at her trial, scheduled for March 2.

Best Example Of a Modern 13th Century Ruin

To the discerning eye, the tell-tale signs of modern touches are evident at the abandoned Ozark Medieval Fortress, despite the veneer of 13th century authenticity.

Air-gunned nails were used to assemble the tread-wheel crane, not handmade specimens created by fortress craftsmen. Door hinges were bought at Ace Hardware, not forged by the on-site blacksmith. Felled trees used in construction throughout the property were cut with chainsaws, not hewn by hand-powered medieval-style blades.

Located on 50 acres in the far reaches of northern Boone County, the failed project was envisioned to bring a historic slice of 13th century France to the New World and draw a share of the tourism riches flowing around Branson, Mo., 30 miles away.

The anachronistic appeal of the fortress, however, only enticed sporadic visitors numbering in the hundreds instead of the expected thousands.

Worst Alleged Use Of TARP Funds

Helping rebuild bank capital was a key point in the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program-Troubled Asset Relief Program. Providing a bank owner with spending money was not.

Among the allegations against the late Layton “Scooter” Stuart is that he used nearly $2.2 million in CPP-TARP funds to cover personal expenses instead of solidifying the balance sheet at his One Bank & Trust.



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