Former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner was sentenced to 30 months in prison on federal bribery and extortion charges.
Martha Shoffner, 71, a resident of Newport and former Arkansas Treasurer, was convicted last year for accepting $36,000 to ensure a large chunk of the state's bond business went to a broker friend. The entire scam was spread over three years and some of the money was delivered in a pie box. Shoffner had resigned in 2013 after FBI had caught her red-handed in a carefully orchestrated sting operation. Accepting her crimes in the federal court, a tearful Shoffner had said, "It was wrong, it was unethical and it was a violation of the public's trust."
As part of her sentencing, Shoffner was ordered to pay $31,980 in restitution to the state. Needless to say, the amount is pretty close to the sum she received from bond broker Steele Stephens between May 2010 and May 2013. However, she had already turned over part of the earnings to FBI during her arrest. Shoffner will have to report to the prison warden in the month of November.
Surprisingly, Martha Shoffner escaped a much harsher punishment that was suggested as per the guidelines pertaining to bribery, but her attorney Chuck Banks made some pretty convincing arguments on her behalf. Shoffner broke down several times during her trial and Banks asked the court to take into consideration her remorse. He further stated that Shoffner was "very naive and gullible, which led to her terrible mistake of judgment that constituted an anomaly in a lifetime otherwise devoted to public service," reported Arkansas Online.
A federal judge had convicted Martha Shoffner last year after hearing four days of testimony. Her charges included six counts of bribery, one count of attempted bribery, and seven counts of extortion. If prosecutors could have had their way, Shoffner would have been looking at quite a lengthy jail term varying between 63 months and 78 months. On the other hand, Banks had requested the court to consider her age, naivety and remorse to grant her a sentence of 12 to 18 months, with half in-home detention, reported MSN.
The FBI had managed to gather evidence during a raid on Martha Shoffner's Newport home after they had secured the cooperation of the broker, reported Times Record. The broker had sent $6,000 in a pie box to Shoffner, while the FBI waited to nab her. Upon realizing she was under surveillance, Shoffner had thrown her cellphone from a bridge into a waterway.
[Image Credit | Chris Ryan / Getty Images]