The ASSOCIATED PRESS has an accusation against L.A. Clippers announcer Michael Smith that came absolutely out of nowhere:
Smith, 44, and his business partner Bruce Furst, 57, were charged Dec. 21 with felony grand theft, Orange County district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Wednesday. They also face sentencing enhancements for the amount of losses involved.
According to prosecutors, Smith persuaded his friend, a retired school teacher with an inoperable brain tumor, to put up his paid-off Dana Point home in January 2008 as collateral for a $735,000 loan, so Smith and Furst could develop land in Dana Point. Prosecutors said the pair lied and said the loan was safe and would be 100 percent guaranteed.
Smith and Furst, who both live in Laguna Hills, also failed to deliver as promised the $7,200 monthly mortgage payment the victim now must make on his house, prosecutors said. The victim is expected to lose his home.
Smith’s attorney has since responded to the charges, as Smith did himself upon arraignment today in Orange County Superior Court.
Austin Knoblauch of the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports:
Smith’s lawyer, Dyke Huish, has denied the charges. “Mike is absolutely not guilty of any criminal activity, period, and we fully expect to show this in court,” Huish told The Times.
Huish acknowledged Smith owed money and that he intends on paying it back.
Smith, 44, could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
If Smith’s friend has the terms of the loan in writing (god help him if he doesn’t), not really sure what the dispute would be.
Smith looks like he could be in line for an uphill battle, but perhaps it’s comforting for him to know that he has a boss, Donald Sterling, with so much experience himself in the legal system.
Though we know that the Clips and FSN are hair-trigger when it comes to suspending announcers, if I were running the team and/or network, I’d first get Sterling’s black book lean to not suspending Smith for now. Do some homework on the case, and if it appears that Smith has a legit defense, probably let the case run its course.
For all we know the guy accusing Smith could be a kook but this doesn’t look good.