Beaufort News

Charleston attorney to represent ex-clerk

Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith has hired a Charleston attorney and former federal prosecutor to represent her in federal court next month.

Lionel Lofton will represent Smith when she appears in a federal courtroom in Charleston on Oct. 27 to be arraigned for allegedly using $338,500 in federal child support enforcement funds to pay Beaufort County Drug Court costs, including the salary of her husband, Manning Smith, who once ran the court.

Elizabeth Smith was charged Sept. 22 by the U.S. Attorney's Office with one count of unlawful conversion of public funds. The crime carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Lofton worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston for 12 years before opening his private practice in 1983, according to the firm's website.

Smith's case will be heard by Judge Sol Blatt, according to federal court records.