Former State Treasurer Gets 30 Months

Martha Ann Shoffner, former state treasurer, was sentenced to 30 months in Federal Medical Center Carswell Prison in Fort Worth, Texas, for her bribery charges in association with Steven Steele State bonds in a hearing Aug. 28.
Shoffner was represented by Chuck Banks, judged by Leon Holmes and prosecuted by Chris Thyer. She faced a much more daunting sentence of 15 years in prison under federal guidelines. Banks had asked for 12 to 18 months, with half that in a halfway house where she could possibly perform community service.
Shoffner, a 71-year-old Newport resident, admitted to receiving $36,000 from bond broker Steele Stephens in $6,000 increments, sometimes concealed in a pie box, which she used to cover rent payments for her Little Rock apartment. She received the payments over three years in return for directing state bond business to him.
The courtroom was tense as the sentence was given out, with nearly half of the courtroom filled with Shoffner’s family and friends.
Although Banks pulled out all of the stops to get Shoffner the minimal sentence with letters of character from family, friends and old colleagues, he was unable to avoid jail time. Shoffner let out sobs as Judge Holmes played out the final words of the sentencing, ending with the well-known words: “court is adjourned.”
Judge Leon Holmes said Shoffner had netted little — he ordered restitution of $31,920 she’d kept in bribes, but said as a public official she should do prison time. He explained that had she not been a person of renown such as a bank teller who had embezzled money, that she would have gotten less jail time. But because of her role as a public official, and in an effort to deter future misconduct from other state officials, he handed down the final sentencing of 30 months in federal prison.
Holmes’s said she had “disgraced the public office and betrayed the trust of the people.”
When asked to split Schoffner’s sentence between federal prison and a halfway house, Judge Holmes said that he wouldn’t be “doing her any favors” by sending her to a halfway house, saying that conditions at a halfway house would not be ideal for a woman her age and that the facility in Fort Worth would be better equipped to have her for her 30-month stay.
Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 15 to nearly 20 years in prison, saying a lighter sentence would send the wrong message about public corruption. In the end both sides of the courtroom were in agreement that the 30-month sentence at the medical facility in Fort Worth would be appropriate.
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