Beaufort News

Former clerk requests early end to federal probation

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith

Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith has asked for, and is expected to receive, an early end to her two-year probation for misusing federal funds, according to court records.

Smith's attorney, Lionel Lofton of Charleston, filed a motion Sept. 7 stating Smith had complied with all terms of her probation, which included six months of house arrest. The motion also said her federal probation officer has no objections to an early termination of her supervised release.

A federal judge has yet to rule on the request, court records show. Even if her federal probation is rescinded, Smith remains on probation for her conviction in state court. She has not filed for a reduction of that probation, court records indicate.

Smith, 49, was sentenced to federal probation in September 2011 after pleading guilty to one count of conversion of public money.

She was charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office in September 2010 with writing five unauthorized checks worth $338,500 in federal child-support funds to pay her husband's salary while he oversaw the Beaufort County Drug Court between January 2006 and June 2009, according to an indictment.

Winston Holliday, who prosecuted the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office said he will not make a recommendation on Smith's probation request, which is common in such cases. "A white-collar defendant applying for early termination is not that unusual," Holliday said.

The judge will consider whether she's complied with the terms of her probation, the original crime and the likelihood that she will commit crimes in the future. He said the judge could rule either way, "but odds are she will receive her request."

Meanwhile, Smith remains on probation for her state conviction.

In September 2010, S.C. Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith sentenced her to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service after a Beaufort County jury found her guilty of writing checks worth $23,500 from public accounts to help pay for insurance premiums for relatives and a vacation home on Pawleys Island.

After the conviction, the S.C. Supreme Court disbarred Smith.

Related content

  1. Federal judge sentences former court clerk to house arrest, Sept. 22, 2011
  2. Federal prosecutors to recommend jail time for former clerk of court, July 23, 2011
  3. Former court clerk pleads guilty to federal misuse-of-funds charge, March 2, 2011
  4. Ex-court clerk Smith to be arraigned in federal court Oct. 27, Sept. 23, 2010