Arkansas treasurer accused of taking cash from broker

An affidavit filed Monday in federal court alleges that Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner repeatedly took cash payments, sometimes rolled up and hidden inside a pie box, from a broker who invested state money.

The affidavit claims that Shoffner accepted multiple payments of $6,000 cash. The affidavit from FBI Special Agent Richard McLain said the broker has been granted immunity in exchange for his or her cooperation. According to the affidavit, Shoffner accepted at least $36,000.

Shoffner was arrested on an extortion charge Saturday and was set to appear in court later Monday. Shoffner, a Democrat, was re-elected in 2010 and has faced inquiries over the past year about the way her office has handled state investments.

She was criticized in a legislative audit last year for bond sales that blocked the state from earning more than $400,000.

"(The broker) began receiving more of the state's bond business after he/she began paying Shoffner $6,000 cash every six months," the affidavit said.  The broker "recognized his/her bond business with the state grew because of the payments he/she made to Shoffner."

Shoffner was being held in the Pulaski County jail. Her attorney, Chuck Banks, did not return a call seeking comment.

The affidavit said Shoffner was arrested at her home in Newport in a sting operation. The broker agreed to record the meeting and bring $6,000 stashed in a pie box, the affidavit said.

Shoffner was arrested after the broker left her home and special agents with the FBI executed a search warrant there. The affidavit said the $6,000 was located inside a cigarette package in Shoffner's kitchen.

"Shoffner admitted she knew it was wrong to accept the payments," the affidavit said.