The trial of former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner begins with pre-trial motions and jury selection today in federal court in Little Rock.
AP reports that defense attorney Chuck Banks asked today for any immunity letter given Steele Stephens, the broker who was wired when delivering cash to Shoffner at her Newport home. She is charged with favoring Stephens with bond business in return for such gratuities. The Arkansas Blog reported Stephens was the cooperating witness 10 months ago, but this was the first time he’s been identified in an official forum. The government says no immunity letter has been prepared.
The Arkansas Blog reported in October 2011 that Stephens enjoyed a significant portion of the treasurer’s bond business. This was before a legislative audit of Shoffner’s office, an audit that turned up no wrongdoing but some questions about the wisdom of some of her investment practices. The scrutiny didn’t deter the Shoffner-Steele friendship, which culminated with his reported delivery of $6,000 to Shoffner in a pie box in May 2013. FBI agents were sitting outside during the delivery.