Posted 2/20/2014 10:54 am
Updated 2 months ago
LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge on Wednesday granted a request by former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner to exclude some evidence in her corruption trial next month.
Shoffner is to be tried starting March 3 on a 14-count bribery and extortion indictment. U.S. District Judge J. Leon Holmes ruled that prosecutors can't introduce evidence from 10 new mail fraud charges added this month, for which Shoffner is to be tried separately.
Holmes wrote in an order that prosecutors can introduce evidence that includes Shoffner allegedly receiving cash, gifts and a cellphone from a broker she's accused of steering bond business to in exchange for more than $36,000 in illegal payments.
"That evidence is relevant and its relevance is not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice," Holmes wrote.
The government hasn't yet revealed the name of the broker.
Prosecutors wanted to be able to use evidence related to the mail fraud charges, which accuse Shoffner of illegally spending $9,800 in campaign money on personal items.
Holmes wrote that the mail fraud counts don't dovetail with the extortion and bribery case against Shoffner.
"The crimes that will be the subject of the March 3 trial allege that Shoffner extorted and received bribes from a particular broker, whereas the crimes charged in Counts 15 through 24 have no apparent connection to that broker nor to any extortion or bribery. The evidence pertaining to those crimes does not complete the story or give a total picture of the crimes in Counts 1 through 14," Holmes wrote.
Holmes noted that prosecutors had known for months that that they would try to use mail fraud evidence in the first trial but "notice was given so near the trial date that Shoffner lacks sufficient time to prepare to defend against that evidence."
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