Yorker 'plundered' Md. fishing group for $100K, lawsuit alleges

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A York County man has been sued in Maryland, accused of taking $100,000 from the sport-fishing association where he had been executive director.

The civil complaint against David J. Smith of the 1600 block of Rosebrook Drive in Windsor Township was filed June 5 in Anne Arundel County's circuit court by the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association in Exxex. The lawsuit was first reported in the Capital newspaper, also known as the Capital Gazette.

According to the lawsuit, provided by the Capital, Smith "plundered" the MSSA to the tune of $100,000.

David J. Smith, former executive director of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association.

"It's been extremely crippling" for the association, according to its attorney, Stephen Shechtel.

"If the court were to grant all the relief requested ... the case has a value of a minimum of $400,000," Shechtel told The York Dispatch.

Smith could not be reached for comment. He has no listed attorney for the lawsuit, according to online court records.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department's financial crimes unit continues to investigate and has been looking into the allegations for some time, department spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure told The York Dispatch on Thursday, July 12.

They needed to wait for MSSA's accountant to provide investigators with the total amount believed to be missing, he said.

"These investigations often take some time," Frashure said.

The allegations: The MSSA hired Smith as associate executive director in 2008, then promoted him to executive director the following year.

"In 2016, Smith informed the Board of Directors that the MSSA was experiencing financial difficulties," the lawsuit states. "Smith withheld from the Board of Directors that MSSA's liabilities had increased by 1,765% (not a typo) and that its total equity had declined by 53%."

In 2017, Smith withheld from the board that liabilities had increased another 136 percent and that the association's total equity had declined another 53 percent, according to the suit.

Smith took out bank loans and a line of credit in the MSSA's name and used the money for his personal benefit, according to the lawsuit.

He also made personal charges on an MSSA credit card issued to him, the suit alleges.

Evicted: In late January, MSSA's president learned it was being evicted from its headquarters for failing to pay the rent.

"Smith withheld from the Board of Directors that he had not paid rent to the landlord for several months," the lawsuit states.

The association also learned that Smith failed to pay tournament winners from MSSA's 2017 fall fishing tournament, according to the lawsuit.

Smith concealed monthly bank statements and other financial records from the board to hide the "true nature of the MSSA's financial condition," the suit states.

After the association fired Smith, he kept the MSSA laptop computer and cellphone that had been assigned to him, despite demands from the association that he return them, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Smith committed fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and conversion.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.