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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 5, 2015

Vidalia, Georgia Attorney Indicted On Federal Fraud And Identity Theft Charges

Savannah, GA: Wilson R. Smith, 63, a licensed attorney from Vidalia, Georgia, was indicted this week by a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah on charges related to an alleged scheme to settle his clients’ cases without their knowledge and to steal the settlement proceeds.  The indictment alleges that Smith stole over $1 million in fraudulently obtained settlement proceeds.   

Smith faces federal charges of mail fraud and bank fraud.  If convicted of those two charges, Smith faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and a $1,250,000 fine.  Smith also faces a count of aggravated identity theft.  If convicted of that charge, Smith would receive an additional two-year prison sentence, consecutive to any other sentence imposed.  U. S. Attorney Edward Tarver emphasized that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Smith already faces state charges of theft by deception and forgery.  Smith’s state case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by District Attorney Hayward Altman of the Middle Judicial Circuit.  Since his arrest on state charges, Smith has remained in custody at the Toombs County Jail.

First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham is prosecuting the federal case on behalf of the United States.  The investigation of this case remains ongoing.

Updated April 13, 2015