Jailed financier C. Arnholt Smith was turned down Thursday by the 4th District Court of Appeal in his attempt to be freed from a county honor camp, where he is serving a one-year sentence for stealing millions of dollars from one of his bankrupt companies.
In the rejected appeal motion, Smith’s lawyers argued that Superior Court Judge Kenneth A. Johns lacked the authority to order Smith, 86, jailed last fall because the former financier’s originally imposed five-year probationary period had expired.
Smith, who formerly owned the now-bankrupt U.S. National Bank, the Yellow Cab Co. in San Diego and the San Diego Padres, was convicted in May, 1979, on embezzlement and tax fraud charges. That same month, he was sentenced to one year in jail and five years’ probation.
A former confidant of President Richard M. Nixon, Smith appealed the sentence and remained free during more than five years of legal maneuvering by his attorneys. Last summer, Smith finally exhausted his appeals and he surrendered on Nov. 26 to begin the one-year sentence. However, Smith is scheduled to be released on July 26 after serving only eight months.
In a seven-page opinion, the appellate court ruled that Smith could not avoid imposition of the jail sentence simply because he “chose to be subject to custody only after appeal.”