Clippers Commentator Allegedly Stole $735,000 From Retiree With Inoperable Brain Tumor

With seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers are pulling off an improbable victory over the Los Angeles Lakers–and Mike Smith is helping to call the action alongside Ralph Lawler on Fox Sports West.

Nice work if you can get it–especially when you are facing arraignment Thursday on charges of stealing $735,000 from a retired school teacher, who has an inoperable brain tumor.

Smith, 44, a former Clipper player who lives with his family in Laguna Hills, faces five years in state prison if convicted of the charges against him. The Orange County District Attorney's office announced today they will request bail of $735,000 to reflect the amount of the alleged theft.

The OCDA statement follows after the jump . . .

January 6, 2010


*A co-defendant is also charged in this case

SANTA ANA – A professional sports commentator will be arraigned
tomorrow on charges of stealing $735,000 from a retired school teacher,
who has an inoperable brain tumor, by convincing the victim to use his
paid-off home as collateral for a development investment project. A
co-defendant is also charged in this case.
Michael John Smith, 44,
Laguna Hills, and
Bruce Howard Furst, 57, Laguna Hills, are charged
with one felony count of grand theft with sentencing enhancements and
allegations for loss over $100,000 and property damage over $200,000.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in
state prison. The People will be requesting $735,000 bail, to reflect
the theft amount, at Smith's arraignment tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 7,
2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa

Furst is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 3, 2010, in
Department C-55. He is out of custody on $25,000 bail over the
objection of the People, who advocated for $735,000 bail to reflect the
theft amount.

In January 2008, Smith is accused of repeatedly soliciting his
long-time friend, William S., to invest in a development project in
Dana Point in which he and Furst were involved. The victim, a
65-year-old retired school teacher with an inoperable brain tumor,
repeatedly refused. Smith is accused of eventually persuading William
S. to put up his paid-off Dana Point home as collateral for a $735,000

Smith and Furst are accused of inducing the victim to turn over his
money by falsely representing to the victim that he would be the sole
recipient of a promissory note, the loan was safe and 100 percent
guaranteed, the loan would be for a maximum of two months, and that the
defendants would sell their own homes before letting William S. lose
his home.

The development project in Dana Point never materialized and Smith and
Furst are accused of failing to repay the victim. They are accused of
assuring William S. that they would repay him using money from another
project, but failed to make the promised payment.

An escrow account was established for six months to pay the $7,200
monthly mortgage on William S.'s home. The defendants are accused of
failing make any payments toward the victim's mortgage after October
2008, despite their agreement with the victim to ensure his mortgage
was paid. William S. contacted the Orange County District Attorney's
Office in July 2009 to report the theft.

The victim, who cannot afford a $7,200 monthly mortgage, is expected to
lose his home. The defendants have not put their homes up for sale,
despite promising William S. that they would do so. Smith is a sports
commentator for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge of the White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting this case.

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