Posted 2/18/2014 07:11 am
Updated 5 months ago
LITTLE ROCK — Federal prosecutors filed court papers Monday seeking permission to introduce evidence at the bribery and extortion trial of former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner that would show the steps she took when allegedly accepting more than $36,000 from a bond broker.
Shoffner is to be tried starting March 3 on 14 counts from her indictment. Earlier this month, another 10 mail fraud counts were added to the charging document, alleging that she misspent $9,800 from her campaign account. Her trial on those charges will come later.
In Monday's filing, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge J. Leon Holmes to allow any convictions from Shoffner's first trial to be put before the jury in the second trial.
"This evidence is intrinsic to the mail fraud counts, as the evidence regarding all counts concerns Shoffner obtaining money that she was not entitled to receive as a result of her official position and candidacy for an official position, and all charges stem from misconduct while Shoffner was a public official," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Mazzanti wrote.
Mazzanti argued that the value the evidence would bring to the government's case outweighs any prejudice it would engender among jurors.
Earlier in the case, Shoffner's attorney, Chuck Banks, filed motions asking Holmes to order the government to provide details of its case, including a transcript of an hour of recorded conversations involving Shoffner. Banks said portions were unintelligible and wanted prosecutors to put in writing what they believed was said.
But prosecutors replied that they had no intention of transcribing the recordings and argued that they had provided adequate information through the indictment and other documents. Holmes agreed and denied Banks' motions. Banks did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press for comment Monday.
Prosecutors revealed Monday that Shoffner is accused of accepting a cellphone in April 2012 from the broker, whom prosecutors have not yet publicly named. The government said Shoffner was provided the "drop phone" so she could "avoid interception or detection of their communications."
The document accuses Shoffner of accepting $10,000 in cash at a September 2009 campaign event, of which $2,000 was a cash campaign donation from the broker.
"Shoffner failed to report the receipt of the cash as either a campaign donation or as a gift and failed to deposit it into her campaign account," the filing states.
The document alleges Shoffner accepted $4,000 at a November 2010 campaign event, again allegedly keeping the cash and not depositing the sum into her campaign account. The filing also accuses Shoffner of accepting from the broker gift cards and "the glasses Shoffner wore to a legislative audit hearing."
Shoffner, a Democrat, resigned last year and was to have pleaded guilty last May but wouldn't admit guilt at a federal court hearing.
She was arrested May 18 after the broker agreed to record a meeting with Shoffner when he brought $6,000 to her home in a pie box.
FBI agents searched the home and found the cash inside a cigarette package in Shoffner's kitchen. Shoffner admitted that she accepted the payments from the broker, the FBI said in an earlier affidavit.
Shoffner was first elected treasurer in 2006 and won a second term in 2010.
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