United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich today sentenced Gary Todd Smith (49, Fayetteville, North Carolina) to 40 years in federal prison for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. The court also ordered Smith to forfeit $63 million, an amount traceable to proceeds of the offense. Smith had pleaded guilty on June 7, 2017.
According to court records, Smith ran Smith Advertising, which turned into a massive fraud scheme. Smith borrowed money from more than 150 people, and each earlier loan was repaid from subsequent loans. Smith lied about the purpose of the loans, and he and his co-conspirators created fake documents to mask the scheme. Over the course of the five-day sentencing hearing, the court heard from more than 50 victims who described the devastation wrought upon their lives by Smith’s massive fraud scheme. The victims suffered bankruptcies, loss of their homes, loss of retirement funds, and loss of their children’s education funds.
“This was a crime motivated by greed and a desire to fund an extravagant lifestyle,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute those who defraud and steal from honest, hardworking Americans.”
“This investigation and subsequent sentencing exemplifies the strength of the federal law enforcement collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Patrick Henry, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service Tampa Field Office. “Each agency involved brought to bear its talent, resources, and commitment to mission. The Secret Service remains dedicated to aggressively protecting our nation and its citizens from financial fraud.”
“With more than 100 victims in this case, our agents and analysts worked tirelessly to ensure justice was served,” said Eric W. Sporre, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Division. “This investigation shows how greed can consume everything in its path and why any suspicions of financial fraud should be reported immediately to authorities.”
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.