Shoffner pleads innocent to new charges

Posted: February 27, 2014 at 6:39 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.

Former state treasurer Martha Shoffner appeared in federal court Thursday morning for her arraignment on mail fraud charges. She plead not guilty and is scheduled to face her first trial — on bribery and extortion charges — on Monday.

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner pleaded innocent in federal court Thursday to mail-fraud charges that allege she misspent thousands of dollars in campaign money on personal items.

Shoffner and lawyer Chuck Banks went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on Thursday morning, entering the innocent plea "on all charges," Banks told Deere. The hearing, which lasted less than five minutes, was to initially address the 10 mail-fraud charges Shoffner faces. A grand jury earlier this month alleges Shoffner spent $9,800 in campaign funds to buy clothing and cosmetics.

Deere confirmed that Shoffner's first trial — on the original six counts of extortion, one count of attempted extortion and seven counts of bribery — will be held starting 9:15 a.m. Monday in front of Judge Leon Holmes.

Shoffner, 68, faces 24 total counts, which will be divided between two trials. Shoffner will face the mail-fraud charges in a March 31 trial.

Shoffner was arrested May 18 at her home in Newport after an FBI investigation into accusations that she accepted more than $36,000 in bribes to reallocate state investments to several bond brokers she favored. She resigned as state treasurer three days later.

Shoffner served as state treasurer from 2007-2013.

Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.