Florida man, 80, accused of stealing from Miami Gardens-based Catholic charity

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

An 80-year-old Florida man has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a Miami Gardens-based Catholic charity that serves the sick and poor, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Hershel F. Smith Jr., who served as treasurer of the Malta Projects of Southeastern Florida, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine counts of wire fraud alleging $27,000 in theft. The charity is associated with the New York-based Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church.

Smith, who lives in Ponte Vedra, was arrested by FBI Special Agent Judy Orihuela and granted a $100,000 personal surety bond while he awaits trial in Miami federal court.

According to the indictment, Smith is accused of stealing from the charity’s account with Gibraltar Bank in Coral Gables and of concealing the “false and fraudulent” withdrawals from Malta Projects between 2005 and 2012.

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