PB man accused of stealing from Conway organization

A Pine Bluff man appeared in Faulkner County court Wednesday on a charge of felony theft from a local nonprofit civic organization established for people with developmental disabilities.

Christopher Corte Smith, 40, was arrested in June 2013 for allegedly using the Sunshine Optimist Club bank account to make $11,550 in withdraws and payments for personal use.

Smith was the club secretary and the only member of the club who did not have developmental disabilities.

According to the prosecutor’s affidavit, the Conway Police Department was notified of accounting discrepancies spotted by Independent Living Service’s director.

The agency, which serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, has clients who are part of the civic club.

Sunshine Optimist Club was founded in 2009 to encourage people with disabilities to participate in civic activities.

Smith was an employee of Independent Living Services, but was fired from his position as assistant case manager, according to case information.

The Conway Police Department report and information turned over to prosecutors state that evidence suggests Smith used the club account to make online payments to JCPenney, Amazon.com, DirecTV, Match.com, Chase, Capital One, First Premier and Walmart.

There is also evidence Smith made several cash withdrawals from the account.

Investigators found a check written to Crain Automotive, but it was returned due to insufficient funds.

Jackie Fliss, Independent Living Services director, said the net amount owed to the club is $6,144. Fliss said it appeared Smith used the account for personal transactions and also made deposits to the account.

She added that there is money missing from fundraisers held by the club’s members, but the amount is unknown.

Checks were also written to Community Bank and Lane Bryant, according to the report.

Discovery in the case was turned over to prosecutors beginning in May 2013, about the time a warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued.

Smith was arrested in Conway on June 3, 2013.

According to court information, he failed to appear at a pretrial hearing.

He was in court Wednesday for a status hearing, where his plea and arraignment were scheduled for April 7.