The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Former pageant director charged with embezzlement


August 11, 2019

PORTALES — A Roosevelt County rancher was indicted Thursday on 18 felony counts including fraud, embezzlement and racketeering during a three-year period leading the Miss New Mexico Scholarship Organization.

Greg Smith, 56, of Elida, was indicted for second-degree felony racketeering during the period Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2017, and a litany of more specific allegations of embezzlement, fraud, issuing worthless checks and attempted tax evasion.

Investigators say Smith "stole money from the organization" according to a news release Thursday from Attorney General Hector Balderas and 9th Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb.

Reeb said Smith was not in custody Thursday and was not present for the Roosevelt County Grand Jury indictment that morning. His conditions of release will be determined at a forthcoming court hearing.

The attorney general’s office had been investigating Smith since late 2017, when former pageant contestants and their parents reported not receiving outstanding scholarship monies. That’s according to the affidavit for a search warrant on Smith’s Elida property, approved Oct. 2 by 9th Judicial District Judge Donna Mowrer.

Three of Smith’s seven embezzlement counts pertain to individual contestants whose scholarship funds “he did convert to his own use” in late 2017, according to the indictment. Smith was removed as MNMSO’s executive director in February 2018, but in the three years prior had allegedly accumulated “an outstanding owed scholarship balance estimated to be approximately $54,419.75,” according to last year’s affidavit from AG Special Agent Jennifer Lund.

Lund’s investigation also asserted that “Mr. Smith used pageant funds to further his G 13 Ranch business.” In an affidavit section detailing “numerous questionable purchases, withdrawals and transfers,” Lund traced an August 2016 transfer of $1,700 from MNMSO’s account to Smith’s ranch account and from there to a cashier check for an Angus semen vendor.

Smith did not return messages from The News and attempts to reach his attorney were not successful. His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 21 in Mowrer’s court.

"New Mexican women who seek leadership opportunities should not see those opportunities taken by corporate corruption," Balderas said in the release. "My office is dedicated to ensuring that vulnerable New Mexicans are protected from those who prey upon them, and we look forward to presenting this case to a jury."

Also from Smith’s indictment, filed Thursday in Roosevelt County:

• Two counts of fraud for allegedly overcharging contestants for rooms at Eastern New Mexico University: $6,200 and $4,800 in June of 2015 and 2016, respectively.

• Two counts of embezzlement over $2,500: one for allegedly “convert(ing) to his own use scholarship money designated for 2014 contest winners” and another for allegedly doing the same with Portales Lodger Tax funds intended for audiovisual work in 2017.

• Five counts of embezzlement “over $500 but not more than $2,500,” three of which pertained to allegedly withholding contestant scholarship money. The other two counts allege Smith in 2015 and 2016 kept money from the Miss America National Organization intended for the costume winners’ wardrobe.

• Five counts of felony issuing a worthless check: three to Roosevelt County businesses, one to New Mexico State University and another to an individual.

• Three counts of “attempt to evade or defeat tax,” each pertaining to one of the three years Smith led MNMSO.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019

Rendered 08/19/2019 06:02