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East Cleveland employee indicted for allegedly lying to FBI about being robbed

Nearly $18k in court cash stolen
Cleveland Federal Courthouse 1
Posted at 6:31 PM, Dec 13, 2019

EAST CLEVELAND, OH — The arrest of an East Cleveland Municipal Court worker is raising questions about her claims she was robbed of city money.

Investigators say Laura Smith works as an administrative assistant to Municipal Court Judge William Dawson.

Police say the 25-year-old was arrested by FBI agents inside the judge's chambers Friday morning.

Smith is accused of lying to agents investigating her claims she was robbed outside an East Cleveland bank in September 2018.

According to a police report, Smith said she was robbed by an unknown man at gunpoint. Investigators say she was getting out of her jeep to make a deposit for the court when the robber took three envelopes containing nearly $18,000 is cash and checks.

But East Cleveland Police say Smith's story didn't match what investigators saw on surveillance video. Because she works for the court, the case was turned over to the FBI.

According to a three count federal indictment unsealed after Smith's arrest Friday, the problems with her story continued.

Agents said video showed Smith stop at a McDonald's on her way to the bank, despite her claims she drove straight from the court to the bank to make the deposit.

Investigators also said she lied when she claimed she was not on her cell phone while driving to the bank. According to the indictment, cell phone records showed Smith used her cell phone for about 15 minutes as she traveled. That same trip from court to the bank took 5 On Your Side Investigators about four minutes Friday.

Smith is also charged with lying to agents about the parking space she chose outside the bank before the robbery. Investigators said Smith told them it was the only spot available, but video showed otherwise.

Smith pleaded not guilty to three counts of making false statements to law enforcement in federal court Friday. A judge released her on bond.

East Cleveland's mayor and Judge Dawson have not responded to messages about Smith's arrest, or her employment status.

An FBI spokeswoman said the investigation into the case is on-going.