Beaufort News

Federal prosecutors to recommend jail time for former clerk of court

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith

During an upcoming sentencing hearing, the U.S. Attorney's Office plans to recommend that a federal judge sentence former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith to jail time for misusing federal child support enforcement funds, a prosecutor says.

Smith, 48, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in March to one count of conversion of public funds for writing five checks worth $338,500 to pay her husband's salary while he oversaw the Beaufort County Drug Court between January 2006 and June 2009. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt accepted Smith's plea in April.

Prosecutor Winston Holliday of the U.S. Attorney's Office said a date for the sentencing hearing has not been set but said he plans to recommend Smith serve some time in jail.

"I am reviewing her pre-sentence report now," Holliday said of the filing submitted by the U.S. Probation Office. "We will likely recommend a sentence of incarceration in line with what the pre-sentence report indicates. At this point, I can't get any more detailed."

Smith is currently serving five years of probation after being convicted by a Beaufort County jury in September of embezzlement of public funds and misconduct in office for writing checks worth $23,500 from public accounts to help pay for insurance premiums for relatives and a vacation home on Pawleys Island.

The federal indictment against Smith was handed down the day after Smith was found guilty in state court.

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Related content:

Federal judge accepts ex-clerk of court's plea agreement, April 7, 2011

Former court clerk pleads guilty to federal misuse-of-funds charge, March 2, 2011

Former court clerk Smith faces federal indictment, Sept. 22, 2011