Former ERDC worker says guilty to embezzlement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to one count of embezzlement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi said.

Donald Smith, 46, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine as a result of activities stemming from his time at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.

Sentencing is set for Dec. 16 in Natchez by U.S. District Court Judge David Bramlette.

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Smith was indicted July 22 by a federal grand jury on two counts of embezzling and converting to his own use money or other government property having a value more than $1,000.

According to the indictment, Smith used government credit cards to purchase more than $56,400.46 in personal items and fraudulent travel claims totaling $14,794.51.

The second count was dismissed, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Sheila Wilbanks said.

Smith directed the Engineer Research and Development Center Graduate Institute from March 2005 to July 2006.

At the time of his resignation from ERDC in May 2007, Smith, a research civil engineer, had more than 23 years of government experience as a civil employee.

Special agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Vicksburg Fraud Resident Agency, participated in the investigation, U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton said.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.