Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Former police officer says he'll repay misappropriated funds

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

        INDIAN HILL — A retired Indian Hill police lieutenant is being investigated by Clermont County authorities after Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 112 officials complained that money was missing from a union account.

        The officer, retired Lt. Thomas Smith, admitted in a February statement that he misappropriated $11,391 from a different organization, the Indian Hill Rangers Benefit Fund.

        Mr. Smith is former president of the FOP Lodge 112, which serves Clermont, Brown and part of Hamilton counties.

        “There's concern over how money was spent while (Mr. Smith) was shepherding the books” for the FOP, Clermont County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel “Woody” Breyer said Monday.

        “As head of the lodge, we're trying to sort out what exactly he had the right to do or not do,” Mr. Breyer said.

        Mr. Breyer said he could not comment on how much money may be involved in the FOP case.

        That investigation is separate from the missing benefit-funds case, which is being handled by Indian Hill municipal and police officials.

        Mr. Smith retired from the Indian Hill Rangers in 2000 after 25 years.

        He was secretary/treasurer of the Rangers Benefit Fund for more than 20 years.

        The 50-year-old fund was started by Indian Hill residents and has a balance of about $300,000. Members are current and former Indian Hill Police Department employees. The fund supports ball teams and charities, and contributes to the families of fallen police officers.

        In a Feb. 4 statement obtained Monday by the Enquirer, Mr. Smith said, “I admitted numerous financial transactions where I wrote unauthorized checks to cash, failed to deposit benefit fund donations, and misappropriated Indian Hill Rangers Benefit Fund monies. ... ”

        “I assume the obligation and responsibility to reimburse the Indian Hill Rangers Benefit Fund for the misappropriated money,” he wrote.

        Mr. Smith's attorney was in court Monday and did not immediately return a phone call. Mr. Smith could not be reached for comment.

        Indian Hill police are not likely to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Smith for the benefit-fund misappropriation if he repays the money by July 1, Indian Hill Police Chief Will McQueen said.

        “The guys are being more than fair with the man they worked with for years,” the chief said. “He has the opportunity to make restitution... I think if he takes care of it, it's finished on our part.”


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