DALLAS - A proposed sentence of 15 years in prison for former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner is far too harsh, according to a response from her attorney in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.
In an objection filed May 1 to the proposed sentencing, Shoffner's attorney Chuck Banks said a more appropriate sentence would be about 12 to 18 months, with half served in home detention.
Shoffner, 70, was convicted on March 11, 2014 of six counts of extortion, one count of attempted extortion, and seven counts of receipt of a bribe by an agent of a state government receiving federal funds.
The former treasurer could face a maximum of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each extortion count and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each bribery count.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Shoffner received seven payments of $6,000 each from broker Steele Stephens. In exchange for the money Shoffner steered a disproportionate amount of the state's investment business to Stephens, the jury found.
Shoffner's defense argued that the cash deliveries were gifts, not bribes, and that there was no explicit quid-pro-quo agreement between Shoffner and Stephens.
Evidence included an audio recording of a January 2013 conversation between Shoffner and Stephens in which they discussed the payments and a May 2013 hidden-camera video of Stephens delivering $6,000 in FBI money to Shoffner in a pie box at her Newport home.
Federal authorities arrested Shoffner immediately, and she resigned three days later.
Stephens, who testified for the prosecution in exchange for immunity, said that he made the payments to Shoffner and that he believed he received more of the state's investment business than other brokers because of the payments.
Stephens transacted about $2 billion of bond trades for the state between 2008 and 2012. That was more than twice the amount of the state's business handled by any other broker in that time, according to testimony.
By the end of 2012 Stephens had an inventory of bonds with the treasurer's office totaling more than $600 million, or more than three times the inventory of any other broker trading bonds for the state.