Smith seeks early end to state probation

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Smith seeks early end to state probation

By PATRICK DONOHUE
pdonohue@beaufortgazette.com
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012   |  496 Words  |  

A month after successfully lobbying a federal judge to terminate her federal probation, former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith is asking a state judge to do the same.

However, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone isn't going along with her request, saying Smith violated the public's trust and does not deserve leniency.

Smith's attorney, Lionel Lofton of Charleston, filed a motion Oct. 25 asking Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith to cut short Smith's five-year probation for writing checks worth $23,500 from public accounts. Smith was found guilty of using the money to help pay for insurance premiums for relatives and a vacation home on Pawleys Island, according to court records.

Goldsmith presided over that case and sentenced Smith in August 2010.

Lofton wrote that Smith, 49, had complied with all terms of her probation, including 200 hours of community service. The motion also said her state probation officer does not object to the early termination.

Attempts Thursday to reach Lofton were unsuccessful.

The motion received strong opposition from Stone who, in a separate motion, said Smith never accepted responsibility for her crimes and should serve her full sentence.

"She did not acknowledge that she was wrong, nor did she apologize to the people who put their trust in her," Stone said. "The evidence presented in court showed that instead of being remorseful, she felt entitled."

A date for a hearing on the motions has not been set, according to the Solicitor's Office.

Smith paid restitution and all fines associated with the state case and would otherwise be eligible for early probation termination in September 2013, according to the S.C. Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services.

The request in state court comes about a month after federal Judge Sol Blatt granted an early end to Smith's two-year probation for a separate conviction for misusing federal child-support funds.

Smith was sentenced to federal probation in September 2011 after pleading guilty to one count of conversion of public money for writing five unauthorized checks worth $338,500 in child-support funds.

Smith used the money to pay her husband's salary while he oversaw the Beaufort County Drug Court between January 2006 and June 2009, according to an indictment.

"Her crimes were serious," said Stone, who personally prosecuted Smith on the state charges. "In committing them, she violated the trust placed in her by the people of Beaufort County. She damaged the credibility, not just of the Clerk of Court's Office, but the entire court system."

Related content

  1. Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court wins early release from federal probation, Oct. 9, 2012
  2. Former clerk requests early end to federal probation, Sept. 27, 2012