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El Cajon

September 06, 1986

A 70-year-old certified public accountant from El Cajon was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison for stealing more than $600,000 from two clients.

Stephen Edward Smith was also fined $500 by San Diego Superior Court Judge J. Richard Haden, who rejected a plea for probation by Smith's attorney.

Afterward, Smith's wife began shrieking hysterically outside the courtroom, attracting numerous bailiffs who tried to calm her.

Smith pleaded guilty May 5 to two counts of grand theft and one forgery charge stemming from losses discovered at Aerospace Supply Inc. and Julius Hofer & Sons Inc., where Smith worked as an accountant.

"This case is really aggravated. He took over $600,000," argued Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Canning. "Not only did he steal, he set up a phony bank account."

Smith's attorney, Ronald Lolordo, urged a diagnostic study be ordered before sentencing.

"He feels remorse . . . His (CPA) license is going to be gone because of his conviction," said Lolordo.

George Jach, 64, owner of Aerospace Supply, in Kearny Mesa, testified Smith was once his best friend and felt betrayed by the embezzlement.

The thefts began in 1980 but were not discovered until March 1, 1984, and Smith was not charged until Nov. 27, 1985.

Smith was Hofer's accountant for more than 30 years. The forgery charge relates to Smith signing a bank signature card for Hofer & Sons.

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