From City News Service:
SANTA ANA (CNS) - Los Angeles Clippers announcer Mike Smith is scheduled
to be arraigned Thursday on charges of stealing $735,000 from a longtime
friend of his in a development deal gone bad.
Smith, 44, and his business partner in the deal, Bruce Howard Furst, 57,
of Laguna Hills, were charged Dec. 21 with felony grand theft with sentencing
enhancements and allegations for loss more than $100,000 and property manage
more than $200,000, according to Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge and
Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
The charges stem from a development deal in Dana Point. Smith is accused
of ``repeatedly soliciting'' his friend, a retired school teacher with an
inoperable brain tumor, to put up his Dana Point home as collateral for a
$735,000 loan so Smith and Furst could develop the property, Emami said.
Smith and Furst are accused of assuring the victim that he would be the
sole recipient of a promissory note, the loan was safe and guaranteed and that
the loan would be paid back within two months and that Smith and Furst would
sell their own homes before letting their investor lose his, Emami said.
However, the housing market collapsed and Smith and Furst could not
immediately pay back the loan, Smith's attorney Dyke Huish said.
The victim may lose his home because Smith and Furst have failed to
honor an agreement to pay a monthly $7,200 mortgage, Emami said. An escrow
account was established for six months to pay the monthly mortgage, but no
payments were made after October 2008, she added.
Huish lashed out at prosecutors, insisting that Smith and Furst are
trying to pay back the loan.
``They've been trying to work to pay this guy back for the past year,''
Huish said. ``I don't know when the DA decided to open debtor's prison, but
obviously they've decided to do it again.''
Huish believes the victim went to prosecutors in July because he worried
Smith and Hurst would declare bankruptcy and he would not get his money back.
``(Smith) borrowed money and he's trying to pay it back. He's just not
done and we're working on it,'' Huish said. ``We cannot wait for our day in
court on this.''
Huish said the property was once considered lucrative because they are
``some of the last blue-water views in Orange County,'' but just as they were
about to begin work on building homes and commercial property on the lots the
housing market collapsed in August 2008.
Smith and his friend surf and golf together and have known each other
for about 10 years, Huish said.
If convicted, Smith and Hurst face up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors will ask for $735,000 bail at Thursday's arraignment. Furst's bail
was set at $25,000 on Monday and he was released after posting bond.
The victim is scheduled to testify at a hearing next Wednesday because
officials want his statement on record in case he dies from his brain tumor,