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Solicitor says he's ready to try case against former clerk of court Elizabeth Smith

Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone says he is ready for a jury to hear the state's case against former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith.

Stone sent a letter Thursday asking Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith of Lancaster to pick a date to begin Smith's trial on charges of embezzlement of public funds and misconduct in office.

Prosecutors typically set criminal trial dates, but Stone deferred to Goldsmith, who was assigned by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal to hear the case.

The trial will be at the Beaufort County Courthouse, Stone said.

"I'm ready to go forward with this case, and it's important it is prosecuted as soon as possible," Stone said. "Whatever date he decides, I'll make it work."

Smith's attorney, Mike Macloskie of Beaufort, said he and his client are ready for the case to move forward.

"Duffie and I have been working together and are trying to move this case along," Macloskie said. "We are getting there."

A Beaufort County grand jury indicted Smith, 47, on July 30, 2009, on charges of embezzling more than $23,500 from two public accounts to buy insurance policies for relatives and make payments on a home on Pawleys Island. Smith faxed her resignation to Gov. Mark Sanford minutes before Stone announced the indictments.

Smith was charged with four counts of embezzlement of public funds and one count of misconduct in office. She is free on bond and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. She could not be reached for comment.

Stone said Smith could face additional state or federal charges for allegedly diverting federal child support enforcement funds to the Beaufort County Drug Court, a program that at the time was run by her husband, Manning Smith.

Stone said the U.S. Attorney's Office is still reviewing Elizabeth Smith's handling of the federal funds that are disbursed to the Clerk's Office through the state Department of Social Services. The amount she allegedly diverted to her husband's program has not been disclosed.

Manning Smith was stripped of his position by Chief Justice Toal in August for undisclosed reasons but he has not been charged with a crime.

Stone said that for now he's focused on the embezzlement and misconduct charges.

"This case only involves trying the indictments that have been prepared," Stone said. "We have all the evidence we need for this case, and we need to try her on the indicted charges."

If convicted, Elizabeth Smith faces five to 10 years in prison and could hold public office again only if the money is repaid and she is approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly, according to state law.

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