Arkansas Securities Commissioner Heath Abshure has appointed North Little Rock lawyer Jack Pruniski as a hearing officer to hear two cases growing out of controversial dealings between former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner and an Arkansas securities firm.

Pruniski, a partner in the firm of Hilburn, Calhoon, Harper, Pruniski and Calhoun, will consider a case against Steele Stephens, a salesman who paid bribes to Shoffner in return for significant state business. The case will examine whether he’d made appropriate investment recommendations for the state’s investments. A legislative audit criticized his movements in and out of bond positions as money losers for the state, though the firm for which he worked has contested that interpretation.


Pruniski will also consider the case concerning St. Bernard Financial Services of Russellville and its chief, Robert Keenan. This concerns whether it had adequately supervised Stephens when he was working there. Stephens has resigned from the firm, but retains an inactive license. He cooperated with federal authorities in return for immunity in the investigation that led to the conviction of Shoffner on bribery charges.