Arkansas Securities Commissioner A. Heath Abshure said Tuesday that he has appointed Jack Pruniski of Hilburn Calhoon Harper Pruniski & Calhoun of Little Rock as hearing officer in the cases of Steele Stephens and Robert Keenan.
Keenan is the owner of St. Bernard Financial Services Inc. of Russellville, and Stephens worked for St. Bernard when he did business with former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner, who was found guilty of bribery and extortion earlier this year.
In exchange for Stephens’ testimony, federal prosecutors gave Stephens immunity from prosecution, letting him keep the millions in bond sales commissions he received from bribes he paid to Shoffner.
But the ASD filed a complaint against Stephens on Nov. 5. It seeks to revoke Stephens’ registration as an agent and fine him up to $10,000 per violation for the bribes and other bad acts, including making unsuitable trades and providing incorrect and misleading information to the treasurer’s office.
Stephens is registered with the state but cannot currently work as an agent because he is not registered with a firm. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority permanently barred Stephens from acting as a broker in November 2013 after he failed to respond to requests for information in its own investigation.
Depending on the findings of the hearing officer, the total fine could be about $150,000, staff attorney Scott Freydl told Arkansas Business last month.
The ASD filed a separate complaint against Keenan on Feb. 11. It also seeks to revoke Keenan’s registration as an agent, saying Keenan had failed to properly supervise Stephens and his trades on behalf of Shoffner’s office.
No hearing date has been set in either case.
Shoffner is awaiting sentencing. She was arrested in May 2013 in an FBI raid at her Newport home. Agents said they found $6,000 that was delivered in a pie box by Stephens. She resigned days later.