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Smith reportedly penalized for campaign lapses

Common Council Majority Leader Demone A. Smith is running afoul of state election laws due to lapses by his campaign committee, Investigative Post, a Buffalo-based nonprofit investigative reporting center, said Wednesday.

Investigative Post said that six judgments filed by the state Board of Elections, totaling nearly $3,000, have not been paid. The judgments were taken as penalties for late and missing financial disclosure reports that should have been filed by Smith's campaign committee and East Buffalo Associates, an unrelated committee supporting candidates for Democratic committee posts, where Smith serves as treasurer.

The judgments against Smith's campaign committee total $1,842, while a single judgment against East Buffalo Associates amounts to $1,121, Investigative Post reported.

"Six reports related to his re-election campaign last year were not on file as of Wednesday morning," Investigative Post said. Failure to file campaign disclosure reports on time is a civil violation of state election law.

Smith told Investigative Post that he hasn't paid the judgments because the state Board of Elections never notified him about them.

"They never contacted us, and we never contacted them," he said.

A Board of Elections spokesman contended that Smith's committees should have received notice. He said committees are sent two written notices after they fail to file and a certified letter when a judgment is imposed against them.

Council President Richard Fontana told Investigative Post that he will meet with Smith privately "and see how I can help him."

The reporting center added that Fillmore Council Member David Franczyk, who opposed Smith's election as majority leader in January, is questioning whether he should continue to serve in the position.

"One late filing can be a mistake," Franczyk told Investigative Post, "but this shows a pattern of contempt for the state's election laws."

The Buffalo News reported in January 2010 on Smith's failure to file on time when he was running for Erie County Legislature in 2005 and the Common Council in 2007.

Earlier this month, Smith's wife, Jayme, pleaded guilty to creating $564,000 in counterfeit checks as part of an Internet scam. She faces up to 10 months in federal prison when she returns for sentencing in June.

According to a plea deal, Jayme Smith drafted and mailed 178 checks, some of which she printed on her home computer. Her attorney, John V. Elmore, said she was drawn into the scheme when she answered an ad on Craigslist and was paid only $900 for her role in it.

Four banks based in the South lost an estimated $20,100 in the scam, prosecutors said. Elmore said the Smith family has taken out loans to repay them prior to her sentencing.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com