Smith alleged to have stolen $735K

Updated: January 7, 2010, 1:05 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers announcer Michael Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from the alleged theft of $735,000 from a golfing buddy in a development deal gone bad, prosecutors said.

Smith, 44, and his business partner Bruce Furst, 57, were charged Dec. 21 with felony grand theft, Orange County district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Wednesday. They also face sentencing enhancements for the amount of losses involved.

According to prosecutors, Smith persuaded his friend, a retired school teacher with an inoperable brain tumor, to put up his paid-off Dana Point home in January 2008 as collateral for a $735,000 loan, so Smith and Furst could develop land in Dana Point. Prosecutors said the pair lied and said the loan was safe and would be 100 percent guaranteed.

Smith and Furst, who both live in Laguna Hills, also failed to deliver as promised the $7,200 monthly mortgage payment the victim now must make on his house, prosecutors said. The victim is expected to lose his home.

Smith's attorney Dyke Huish said the deal went sour after the housing market collapsed and they could not immediately repay the loan. Smith has been working to pay back the money, he said.

"The bottom line is that Mike has done absolutely nothing criminal and we are going show that in court," Huish told ESPNLosAngles.com's Ramona Shelburne on Wednesday. "There was no crime, no scheme, no fraud. The reality is he borrowed some money from somebody and has been working to pay it back, but apparently now that's a crime.

"Mike's a good guy, he has always intended to pay the guy back. He signed a promissory note that the guy has."

Huish also said he was disappointed that charges had been filed in this case and felt that Smith was unfairly being targeted because he is a public figure.

The case marks the second time that Smith, a former Clipper who has also played for the Boston Celtics, has found himself in hot water in recent months.

In November, he was suspended for one game by Fox Sports Prime Ticket network for inappropriate comments about Iranian-born Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi.

When asked about the situation by ESPNLosAngles.com at halftime of the Lakers-Clippers game on Wednesday, Smith said it would be inappropriate for him to comment and directed all questions to Huish.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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