Miami chamber of commerce member charged with embezzlement

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2019 | Firm News

In 2017, Brandy Dawn Smith became Vice President of Operations for the Miami Chamber of Commerce, a role that consisted of paying bills, doing payroll and handling the chamber’s finances. However, Smith’s nine-year career as a chamber member came to a halt when she faced charges of embezzling almost $100,000 from the organization.


Suspicions arise

Other chamber members initially discovered Smith’s embezzlement when she used a chamber credit card to pay for a hotel room.

When confronted by Miami Mayor Rudy Schultz, Smith assured him that it was a mistake and that she would pay the money back. However, the next chamber credit card bill showed that Smith had once more used a chamber credit card to pay for more hotel rooms.

A crime uncovered

Her position was temporarily reassigned to Shannon Epperson, an executive assistant of the Miami Area Economic Development Service. When she took over payroll duties, Epperson discovered that at the start of Smith’s second year as VP of Operations, she had begun paying herself multiple times per month and granting herself several unapproved bonuses. These bonuses also included extra paid holiday and vacation days.

After a public accountant conducted an audit, it was discovered that Smith had paid herself almost weekly, rather than bi-weekly, with a total of 47 payments in 2018 and 34 payments in 2019.

After a thorough investigation, police issued a warrant for Smith’s arrest, and she turned herself in shortly afterwards.

Penalties of embezzlement

The consequences of embezzlement crimes like Brandy Dawn Smith’s can be quite serious. Embezzlement charges in Florida can range from felonies of the first, second or third degree depending on the case. These charges can result in expensive fines and even prison time.

After facing an embezzlement charge, you may want to speak with an experienced attorney who can manage the details of your case and help deliver the best possible outcome for you.

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