Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith will remain on probation through 2015 for embezzling public funds after the judge who sentenced her three years ago denied her request Tuesday for early release.
Smith's attorney, Lionel Lofton, told Judge Brooks Goldsmith that the motion to end her probation early was filed so Smith could travel to the United Kingdom to visit relatives over the Christmas holidays.
Smith did not appear at the Beaufort County Courthouse for the hearing Tuesday because of "health issues," Lofton said.
Arguing for the denial of the motion, 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone pointed out that the relatives Smith wanted to visit were some of the same people for whom she helped buy insurance premiums with taxpayer money.
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Goldsmith sentenced Smith to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service in September 2010 after a Beaufort County jury found her guilty of writing checks from public accounts to help pay for the insurance premiums, as well as a vacation home.
In addition to her charges in state court, Smith was sentenced in 2011 to six months of house arrest and a two-year probation in federal court for misusing $338,500 in federal child-support funds. Smith used the money to pay the salary of her husband, Manning Smith, while he oversaw the Beaufort County Drug Court. That probation ended a year early when a federal judge granted her request for a reduction in October 2012.
Lofton said "enough is enough" when it comes to Smith's punishment. He said she has complied with all of the terms of her sentencing and that her probation officer did not object to her early release.
Goldsmith said little else during the hearing other than to deny the request.
Stone applauded the decision, saying Smith has never apologized or shown remorse for violating the public's trust.
"Unfortunately, I've prosecuted a number of public officials," Stone said. "... The one central thing I see for all of them is this sense of entitlement, this sense that the rules don't apply to them. She has damaged this entire court system, violated the public trust and never once apologized."
The denial means Smith will continue to report to her probation officer monthly and pay costs and fees for her supervision. Her travel also is limited.