Thursday, July 19, 2018
Public safety

Police: Lawyer stole more than $100,000 from Clearwater law firm

CLEARWATER — A lawyer faces a grand theft charge after an investigation found he stole more than $100,000 from a Clearwater law firm.

John Smitten, 47, deposited about $115,500 of cash and checks into his personal bank account from at least 82 clients of McGuire Law Offices between February 2012 and July 2014, according to arrest documents. Smitten is also under investigation with the Florida Bar, said spokeswoman Karen Kirksey. He is listed as a lawyer with Carey Leisure & Neal in Clearwater.

Smitten could not be reached for comment Monday.

The theft was reported to Clearwater police by John McGuire after he confronted Smitten several times about a check for $25 that Smitten didn't give to the firm's bookkeeper for deposit, according to the investigation. After he said he was going to have the bookkeeper audit Smitten's finances, McGuire told police Smitten admitted that he misappropriated funds and said he would repay them.

Smitten denied the allegations to a police officer, saying in an email he and McGuire "divided the money fairly and amicably per our relationship." A couple of days later, he left a voicemail with McGuire asking to work things out, then signed a handwritten agreement saying he owed the firm $500,000 and would pay it back from his pay check.

The firm also sued Smitten Feb. 20 saying he stole $500,000 from the firm between 2006 and 2014. As of his Feb. 17 arrest, Smitten had paid back $1,330, police said.

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