Jailed Financier To Be Freed
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Financier C. Arnholt Smith will be released from jail Sunday, four months before the scheduled expiration of his year-long sentence for tax evasion and theft of almost $9 million, officials said.
The sentence was reduced for the 86-year-old Smith, former owner of the San Diego Padres baseball club and a onetime confidante of President Richard Nixon, because he has observed all rules during his stay at a work furlough center, officials said.
″He’s probably been one of the best gardeners we’ve ever had down there. He’s a very hard-working fellow,″ said Vicki Markey, deputy director of the San Diego County Probation Department.
Smith was convicted in 1979 on a felony count of grand theft for stealing $8.9 million from his securities company, Sovereign State Capital.
He also was convicted on four felony tax-fraud charges that an appeals court later reduced to misdemeanors.
Smith remained free during a five-year appeals process. After the appeals were exhausted, he was sentenced in October to a year in jail and five years’ probation.
Smith surrendered Nov. 26 to begin serving the term and and spent 42 days in the downtown jail before being transferred to the Work Furlough Center.
The minimum-security center houses mostly convicted drunken drivers. Smith was one of a small group of inmates who worked within the grounds.
Smith had run a billion-dollar business empire that included the Padres, Yellow Cab Co. of San Diego, and the now-bankrupt U.S. National Bank.
The Padres were sold to McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc in 1974 and most of Smith’s other assets were liquidated to settle claims stemming from the collapse of the bank and other enterprises in late 1973.