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Former state official settles SEC charges

A former Florida housing official agreed to pay $12,190 to settle charges that he received compensation from Stephens Inc. in connection with the brokerage's attempts to win municipal bond business.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that William Jay Ramsey, a former board member of the Florida Housing Finance Agency, made a secret agreement with a consultant working for Stephens, the Little Rock, Ark.-based brokerage. Ramsey, who was chairman of the agency's Professional Selection Committee at the time, twice voted to select Stephens for agency bond business without disclosing the agreement, the SEC said. The agreement called for Ramsey to receive $1,500 per month for a year, and he received one of these payments before the votes in Stephens' favor, the SEC said.

Ramsey settled the SEC charges by paying a $10,000 penalty plus interest and the amount he received from the consultant, the SEC said. In settling the agency's case, Ramsey neither admitted nor denied the allegations. His lawyer couldn't be reached for comment.

Ramsey received no payments after his initial one because the SEC began inquiring into the consultant's activities, the agency said.

Ramsey was acquitted in March of criminal charges stemming from the same arrangement with the Stephens consultant.

Stephens agreed in November to pay $5.5-million to settle "pay-to-play" charges involving attempts to win municipal bond business in Florida and Georgia.