Federal jury convicts former Arkansas treasurer of bribery, extortion for taking broker's cash

The Associated Press

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner walks from the federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark., during a break Monday, March 10, 2014. Shoffner faces 14 bribery and extortion counts and has pleaded not guilty. She resigned last year. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

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By CHUCK BARTELS, Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A jury has convicted former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner of federal bribery and extortion charges for accepting $36,000 in cash from a bond trader to whom she steered state business.

However, after Tuesday's verdict, the judge must rule on a motion to acquit filed by defense lawyers, who argued that the government didn't prove key elements of its case, including that the payments affected interstate commerce and that the bonds involved federal funds.

Shoffner was arrested in May after FBI agents searched her home and found $6,000 and a pie box that bond dealer Steele Stephens had delivered to her after he began cooperating with investigators.

Shoffner had a change of plea hearing shortly after her arrest but balked at admitting guilt, which set the stage for trial.

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