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HOXIE, Ark. – An investigation spanning several months has resulted in a felony charge for a previous Hoxie Water Department employee accused of stealing money from the public.
Keri Smith is facing a class C felony for theft of property greater than $5,000, Mayor Lanny Tinker confirmed on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 12, 2018. Smith is the wife of current Hoxie Police Chief Glenn Smith.
This pertains to improprieties discovered on the books for Hoxie water earlier this year. Tinker informed the public of the investigation in May.
Tinker issued a statement regarding the charge.
As previously reported by news agencies, the City of Hoxie discovered possible discrepancies in Hoxie Water Department funds in March, 2018. The city commissioned an independent audit of water/sewer accounts. The city notified the Arkansas Legislative Audit, Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce who then notified the State Police.
We recently learned the former employee has been charged in the Circuit Court of Lawrence County, Arkansas with Theft of Property > $5000 < $25,000 said offense being a CLASS C FELONY.
Any questions regarding criminal charges should be directed to the prosecuting attorney office.
Mayor Lanny Tinker
Smith was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 12 and taken to the Lawrence County Jail. Records show she posted bond and was release the same day.
The former Hoxie Water Department clerk is accused of stealing over $20,000 in cash payments dating back to the month she was hired – October, 2017. Customers who made payments in cash would find the amount deducted from their account. However, the money wasn’t going into department accounts. Instead, Smith is alleged to have kept the cash while deducting the same from the customer’s account.
The probable cause affidavit claims Smith confessed to the crimes.
In March, 2018, Tinker notified his city council of “alleged improprieties,” and media outlets became aware shortly thereafter. State auditors performed their investigation and discovered the missing funds, leading to Smith’s arrest.
She’s scheduled to be in court again on October 3.