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Ex-Girl Scout official allegedly had $9,500 in boot when arrested

December 19, 2013|By Richard Winton

When a former top Girl Scout official was taken into custody by the FBI on money laundering charges, prosecutors allege he was carrying more than $18,000 in cash, including $9,500 in an envelope concealed in his left boot.

FBI agents arrested Channing Smack, a high-ranking property manager for the Girl Scouts, in his Jaguar after he drove out of the parking garage of his Marina del Rey apartment complex, where he also kept a Cadillac Escalade, according to a search warrant obtained by The Times.

The arrest Tuesday came a day after FBI agents confronted Smack about the alleged embezzlement of $370,000 from the Girl Scouts organization. Within an hour of that meeting, Smack dashed to a bank and withdrew $64,500 in cash, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Federal prosecutors allege that money was part of nearly $370,000 he embezzled from the organization. Smack, who appeared before a federal magistrate Wednesday on charges of laundering $50,000 from the Girl Scouts, was released on $50,000 bond. He faces up to 10 years if convicted of the charge.

However, federal prosecutors say they expect to file additional charges related to the alleged scheme that was carried out while Smack was responsible for managing the Girl Scouts' 22 L.A. properties.

Officials with the Girl Scouts became suspicious of Smack's actions and hired private investigators, who uncovered his alleged connection to a private contractor that supposedly did work on the properties.

During the last year and a half, Smack approved invoices for services supposedly provided by a firm called ZB Land Maintenance & Engineering, which is registered under the name of Smack’s deceased brother, Zachary Bryan Smack, according to an affidavit in the case.

The Girl Scouts issued 23 checks to ZB that totaled $368,278 between August 2012 and October 2013, court records allege.

FBI agents obtained evidence showing most of the checks to ZB were deposited into one of two bank accounts opened under the names of the company and Smack’s deceased brother.

According to the affidavit, bank surveillance photographs show an individual who looks like Smack either depositing or withdrawing funds into or from the bank accounts.

Federal authorities served seizure warrants on three bank accounts believed to contain embezzled funds -- the ZB account and two personal accounts in Smack’s name, into which he is believed to have transferred funds derived from the Girl Scout checks.

Girls Scouts' Chief External Relations Officer Carol Dedrich said the allegations against Smack are clearly violations of the fundamental values and beliefs of the organization and are shocking and disappointing.

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Twitter: @lacrimes| Google+

richard.winton@latimes.com

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