- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An attorney for former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner objected to the suggested 15-year prison sentence for her convictions on bribery and extortion, saying Friday in a court filing that she should get 12 to 18 months with half in home detention.

The U.S. Probation Office’s presentencing report from last year recommended between 15 and about 20 years in prison. Shoffner attorney Chuck Banks cited the report in his filing in U.S. District Court; the actual report was not available online because it was filed under seal. He did not return a call for comment Friday afternoon.

In his 20-page recommendation, Banks included statements from Shoffner’s friends and examples of other more lenient sentences handed out in Arkansas cases. Banks argued that Shoffner, 71, should be given a lesser sentence because of her status as an elderly defendant. He also said her faith, her remorse and the punishment of prosecution that she’s “already endured” should also be considered in the sentencing.

“The punishment of Martha Shoffner began when she was arrested, and treated unlike any other individual who is not a safety threat and charged with a similar nonviolent crime,” Banks wrote. “She was stripped, sprayed for lice, booked, given prison garments, one blanket, a steel cot with a steel mattress, and placed on suicide watch with a severely limited diet.”

Shoffner was arrested in May 2013 in an FBI raid at her Newport home. Agents said they found $6,000 that was delivered in a pie box by a bond dealer cooperating with authorities. Prosecutors say she illegally steered state business to the bond broker who had given her cash. She resigned days later.

In his objection, Banks said the presentencing report uses about $2.4 million in commissions the broker received from the deal to advocate for the longer sentence. But Banks said Shoffner did not receive any benefit from those funds and it should not be considered in the formula.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Givens said federal attorneys are reviewing the filing and would make any necessary responses.

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