January 24, 2014

Former county superintendent case continues with discovery

Defense investigating theft charges against former superintendent.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — The attorney representing the former Cass County building superintendent is investigating the theft charges against his client, who he said is maintaining his innocence.

Eli Smith, former Cass County building superintendent, was arrested in September on charges of stealing county-owned items and making more than $1,200 in unauthorized purchases on a county charge card.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges and a trial was scheduled for earlier this month but was cancelled to allow the defense more time to conduct discovery.

Andrew Achey, the attorney representing Smith in the case, recently filed a request for copies of the transcripts of the search warrant hearings that led to Smith’s arrest.

A status hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 20.

“He is absolutely maintaining his innocence,” Achey said of Smith. “We’re just taking our time to investigate all of the state’s claims.”

Court records indicate several county-owned items were discovered at Smith’s residence upon the execution of a search warrant, including tools and a Wi-Fi extender.

Four Walmart invoices for a Cass County government charge card included in the case file reflect unauthorized purchases totaling $1,202.30 for two iPads, an iPad case and various school supplies.

A probable cause affidavit written by Detective Dale Campbell with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department states Smith was identified on surveillance video purchasing these items.

Smith, who resigned from his position as county building superintendent about a month before the search warrant was executed, was charged with four counts of theft and one count of receiving stolen property.

“I realize he worked in the courthouse, but Mr. Smith will be treated like any other defendant,” Cass County Deputy Prosecutor Bryan Coulter said, adding Smith is innocent until proven guilty.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK