Florence woman pleads guilty to conversion of public money

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – A 48-year-old former Beaufort County Clerk of Court has pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal courtroom to conversion of public money.

According to U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles, Elizabeth Mason Smith, of Florence, diverted at least $68,500 in federal child support money to pay the judicial salary of a family member working for the Beaufort Co. Drug Court in 2006.

Federal regulations prohibit the use of that money for judicial and staff compensation and office-related costs.

Nettles said Smith had control over the money, which ended up in a personal account she also controlled.

The maximum penalty Smith can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, as well as a special assessment of $100.

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