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3:47 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

U.S. Attorney On What's Next In Shoffner Case

Martha Shoffner outside the Federal Courthouse
Credit David Goins / KARK-TV

The guilty jury verdict announced late Tuesday in the case of former Treasurer Martha Shoffner vindicated for some a year-long investigation. Shoffner was found guilty on all 14 counts of extortion and bribery and faces up to 20 years in prison. 

U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer’s office sought the indictment and prosecuted the case. Thyer said the severity of Shoffner’s sentence is still being determined.

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Local & Regional News
1:23 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

$5 Billion Budget Bill and Fond Quips as Arkansas Legislature Nears Adjournment

Nate Bell, Charlie Collins, John Burris, and Duncain Baird laugh at jests directed toward colleagues.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The state legislature held its penultimate session Wednesday with each chamber approving each other’s version of the $5 billion budget bill known as the Revenue Stabilization Act. Members of the House informally commemorated the ending of the session by spending time roasting each other.

A remark by Republican David Branscum commented on the difficulty of picking up just a few votes to pass the private option.

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Local & Regional News
12:58 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Marshals Museum Opening Pushed Back To 2017; Lecture Series Announced

Rendering of U.S. Marshals Museum

Officials have delayed the opening of Fort Smith's $50 million U.S. Marshals Museum until 2017.

The U.S. Marshals Museum Board initially planned to open the museum in 2016, but museum president and CEO Jim Dunn says it will take longer to build the 50,000-square-foot building along the Arkansas River.

Groundbreaking for the facility is still set for Sept. 24.

Meanwhile, the museum says a gift from the widow of the late Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller will fund a three-year lecture series at the museum .

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Local & Regional News
12:45 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Former UCA Administrator Found Guilty In Test-Theft Case

Former UCA chief of staff Jack Gillean was charged with stealing tests from professors' offices.
Credit Faulkner County Sheriff's Office

Former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean has been found guilty on all counts in his commercial burglary trial.

Gillean faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the six commercial burglary counts.

Prosecutors accused Gillean of knowingly providing his UCA master keys to a student so the student could steal tests from professors' offices.

Student Cameron Stark testified that Gillean gave him those master keys so he could steal tests in 2011 and 2012. The defense did not call any witnesses.

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Local & Regional News
6:26 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Highway Officials Say Lack Of Funding Part Of Reason For Winter Storm Back Up

AHTD Director Scott Bennett
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department faced scrutiny Tuesday after miles long, overnight traffic problems last week as a result of winter storms in east Arkansas.

A committee hearing was called after several state lawmakers and Governor Mike Beebe chastised the highway department’s response to the onslaught of sleet, ice, and snow that covered much of northeast Arkansas.

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Local & Regional News
5:53 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

New Numbers Released For Insurance Market Plan

Less than 50 percent of the Arkansans eligible to sign up for health care coverage under the nation's new marketplace have selected a plan.

A report released Tuesday by the federal government shows that of the 58,173 people who are eligible to pick a plan, about 27, 400 have done so during the marketplace's first five months.

Local & Regional News
5:45 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Truthful Tuesday Critiques Legislature; Plans Weekly Rally

Judge Wendell Griffen at Truthful Tuesday
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Visitors outside the state Capitol Tuesday may have noticed a diverse band of people singing and speaking about what they see as the immorality of recent decisions made by the state legislature.

Tuesday's gathering was the first in a planned weekly event known as Truthful Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen replaced his judicial robes with church robes, led call-and-response songs, and listed issues like voter ID laws, access to healthcare, and the prison-industrial complex as key concerns. He emphasized this is an inclusive movement.

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Local & Regional News
4:31 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Jurors Deliberate Fate Of Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner

Jurors have opened deliberations at the bribery and extortion trial of a former Arkansas treasurer.

Defense lawyers say they didn't need anyone to testify on Martha Shoffner's behalf, so the judge gave the case to jurors after closing arguments Tuesday afternoon.

Federal prosecutors told the panel the case was simple: Shoffner took $36,000 from a bond dealer and steered an extra share of state business his way.

Her lawyers said the government never proved its case and that, if anything improper happened, it was a matter for the state Ethics Commission.

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Local & Regional News
4:27 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Arkansas Lawmakers Approve $5 Billion Budget Measure

Arkansas lawmakers have approved a $5 billion budget for the coming year that boosts funding for the state's public schools and prisons as the Legislature nears the end of this year's session.

The House and Senate on Tuesday approved identical versions of the state's budget bill known as the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act.

The Senate voted 34-1 for it while the House vote was 90-8. Final votes on the bill are expected in both chambers Wednesday before the Legislature adjourns.

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Local & Regional News
1:05 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Arkansas Highway Director Says More Resources Needed

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director Scott Bennett says more equipment and employees are needed for highway officials to improve their response to winter weather conditions.

Bennett told a joint legislative committee Tuesday that the department needs more money to buy additional snow plows and hire more people for snow and ice removal.

The meeting was called after motorists were stranded for hours on icy Interstates 55 and 40 in eastern Arkansas when a winter storm dumped heavy sleet on the state last week.

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