Friday, August 23, 2013
HONOLULU - A Hilo man was arraigned today on federal wire fraud charges that he obtained more than $1 million from individuals by making false representations in an "advance fee" scheme. A federal grand jury indicted Justin Wade Smith, age 32, on August 21, 2013 in a 39-count federal indictment which was unsealed upon Smith’s arrest in Hilo yesterday. Smith pled not guilty to the charges at the arraignment, and trial has been set for October 29 before United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright. He is detained pending a further hearing on release scheduled for Tuesday, August 27.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to the indictment, Smith engaged in a scheme to defraud involving the solicitation of money through various false representations. The indictment alleges that Smith's misrepresentations included (1) falsely claiming that he would inherit a sizable amount of money from a family trust, once he paid certain fees and costs, and (2) falsely claiming that he was a contractor or agent of a law enforcement agency, and could generate large fees through seizures of contraband or cash. Smith allegedly told others that he needed to fund the law enforcement operations but would be paid out of the resulting seizures.
According to the indictment, Smith obtained more than $1 million between 2006 and 2012 from individuals on the false promise that he would repay the advances, with significant interest, either from his inheritance, or from payments from the law enforcement agency.
Vida Bottom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Honolulu Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said any individuals having knowledge of Smith's activities are invited to call the FBI's Kona office at (808) 329-5106
For each of the wire fraud counts, Smith faces a maximum period of imprisonment of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000. An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, assisted by the Hawaii Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Larry Tong.