- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas bond trader who gave $36,000 to former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner in exchange for bond business has been fined $20,000 and had his securities license revoked.

Jack Pruniski, a Little Rock lawyer who acted as hearing officer in the case, found Stephens guilty of two violations of the securities law, according to an order released Friday.

The order said Stephens violated securities law when he failed to disclose the amount of commission on a proposed sale before a bond matured and when he made cash payments to Shoffner, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1Is8N4g ) Saturday.

Shoffner is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last year on 14 counts of extortion and bribery in the case.

The Arkansas Securities Department filed a complaint against Stephens last year, accusing him of selling unsuitable securities to the treasurer’s office.

Stephens, who already had been suspended from the bond business, worked for St. Bernard Financial Services of Russellville. He was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in the federal case against Shoffner.

In 2012, Stephens’ inventory of the state’s bond business rose to more than $600 million, while the other 10 to 15 brokers who had a share of the state’s business were limited to $100 million to $200 million of the portfolio, according to testimony in Shoffner’s trial.

Stephens testified that he willingly gave Shoffner money because he “felt sorry for her” after she experienced financial difficulties, the death of her mother and publicity about her use of a state-owned vehicle.

During Shoffner’s trial, Stephens acknowledged that between 2008 and 2012, he earned about $2.5 million in commissions as a result of the roughly $2 billion in bond-trading business he did with the state.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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