Jurors Deliberate in Martha Shoffner Corruption Case

by Chuck Bartels, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014 4:34 pm  

Defense attorney Chuck Banks and Martha Shoffner (file photo).

Shoffner also faces a separate trial on allegations she misspent money from a campaign account, but her attorneys are seeking a delay.

Mazzanti went through a litany of Shoffner's alleged crimes, detailing the $36,000 she accepted in exchange for assuring Stephens got twice as much state bond business than any other broker. "It's that simple," she said.

Mazzanti also described Shoffner taking cash campaign contributions from Stephens and pocketing them, saying his first donation showed Shoffner he was somebody she could get money from.

At one point, jurors heard a recorded conversation between Shoffner and broker Steele Stephens in which Shoffner says, "I feel like I'm a (expletive) criminal."

Mazzanti told the panel Tuesday: "There's a reason she felt that way" and that the treasurer had "betrayed the trust of the people of Arkansas."

Banks said Stephens tailored his testimony to help a government prosecution that otherwise wouldn't be successful - and also to preserve his commissions.

"Do you not think there would be some sort of proof here?" he asked.

In rebuttal, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White acknowledged that some of Stephens' testimony was self-serving but that he confirmed the essence of the charges: He paid Shoffner to get more state business.

Early in the trial, witnesses described Shoffner as being "bossy" and ill-informed, and Banks suggested that employees in her office worked to undermine the treasurer.

"She's not on trial for not being liked," Banks said.

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