Beaufort News

Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court wins early release from federal probation

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith

Former Beaufort County Clerk of Court Elizabeth Smith was granted an early end Wednesday to her two-year probation for misusing federal child-support funds.

Federal Judge Sol Blatt approved a request filed Sept. 7 by Smith's attorney, Lionel Lofton of Charleston, stating Smith had complied with all terms of her probation, including six months of house arrest. The motion also said her federal probation officer has no objections to the early termination.

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

Lofton said Smith was relieved to have the matter behind her.

"Elizabeth is a very sweet person who got caught up in some very unfortunate things," Lofton said.

She remains on probation in South Carolina where, in September 2010, S.C. Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith sentenced her to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

The sentence came after a Beaufort County jury found Smith 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.

Smith paid restitution and all fines associated with the state case and will be eligible for early probation termination in September 2013, according to the S.C. Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services.

"Judge Goldsmith has ruled that if she did all of those things, assuming there are no violations, that is when she can request for early termination," department spokesman Peter O'Boyle said. "Since she's done those things, it's just a matter of waiting for that date to roll around." Smith declined comment Wednesday on whether she intends to do so.

Smith 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 was satisfied with the outcome.

"We are pleased to have obtained a felony conviction and secured the return of money to the victim in this case," Holliday said. "Ms. Smith followed the court's sentencing conditions and achieved an early termination of her probation, which is not uncommon. ... We hope that this case serves as an incentive for those in public office not to violate the trust of their constituents."

Related content

  1. Former clerk requests early end to federal probation, Sept. 27, 2012
  2. Federal judge sentences former court clerk to house arrest, Sept. 22, 2011