Property Manager Accused of Embezzling $370K From Girl Scouts
A 51-year-old Marina del Rey man who managed property for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles was due in federal court Wednesday afternoon to face allegations that he embezzled $370,000 from the youth organization.
Channing Smack was taken into custody on Tuesday on federal charges of laundering $50,000 out of the total amount he allegedly embezzled from the Girl Scouts, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
On Monday, when FBI agents spoke with him about the allegations against him, according to court documents, Smack responded: “Am I going away for life?”
Then, just over an hour later, Smack allegedly withdrew $64,500 from accounts that were believed to hold the proceeds of his “scheme,” according to an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Ryan J. Bell, a white-collar crime investigator.
Smack was a senior manager at the local Girl Scouts organization in charge of property management for the scouts’ 22 properties in the Los Angeles area.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles said Smack’s employment had been “terminated,”adding that his alleged conduct violated the group’s values.
“We are shocked and disappointed by this news and are cooperating completely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Chief External Relations Officer Carol Dedrich said in a statement.
The organization discovered “some irregularities” internally and conducted its own investigation, which was then turned over the the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Dedrich said.
As part of his job, Smack approved invoices from a firm called ZB Land Maintenance & Engineering, which was registered under the name of Smack’s brother, Zachary Smack, who died in 2001, according to court documents.
Under Smack’s direction, the Girl Scouts paid checks totaling more than $368,000 to the firm that were then deposited in one of two bank accounts. One of the accounts had been opened with a fake Arkansas drivers license, according to the affidavit.
Surveillance video showed someone who looked like Smack depositing and withdrawing funds from the accounts.
A senior Girl Scouts executive alerted the FBI to concerns about Smack on Nov. 20, according to an affidavit, saying Smack had last year submitted an invoice for work on a property not owned by the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
After becoming confrontational when asked about the invoice, Smack then allegedly submitted an incomplete invoice with no address.
The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles serves more than 40,000 girls in Los Angeles County and parts of Kern, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, according to the organization’s website.