L.A. Now

Ex-Girl Scouts official gets prison time in embezzlement case

Ex-Girl Scouts official gets 20 months in prison for embezzling nearly $370,000

A former top official of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles who pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $370,000 from the organization has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.

Channing Smack, 51, of Marina del Rey, was also ordered Tuesday to pay $368,278 in restitution after pleading guilty in January to mail fraud and money-laundering charges, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Federal prosecutors charged Smack, a high-ranking property manager for the Girl Scouts, with laundering $50,000 of the sum, a federal offense that could have landed him in prison for 10 years.

Smack was responsible for managing the Girl Scouts' 22 properties in the Los Angeles area. Officials with the organization became suspicious of Smack's actions and hired private investigators, who uncovered his connection to a private contractor who supposedly did work on the properties, prosecutors said.

Smack approved invoices for services supposedly provided by a firm called ZB Land Maintenance & Engineering, which is registered under the name of Smack’s deceased brother, Zachary Bryan Smack, prosecutors said.

The Girl Scouts issued 23 checks totaling $368,278 to the firm between August 2012 and October 2013, according to court records.

FBI agents obtained evidence showing most of the checks to ZB were deposited into one of two bank accounts opened under the names of the company and Smack’s deceased brother.

According to the agents' affidavit in the case, bank surveillance photographs show an individual who looks like Smack either depositing money into the accounts or withdrawing funds from them. Prosecutors said Smack used the funds for personal expenses.

“The offense conduct in this matter is serious,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing position paper filed with the court. They agreed with a preliminary sentencing report that noted the amount of money was "significant" to the victim, a nonprofit that relies on donations and fundraising.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times