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Wire fraud case dropped against Tri-State Defender President and Publisher Bernal E. Smith II

Bernal e smith II-600It was exactly three months ago on May 21 when a federal grand jury indicted two businessmen for their roles in allegedly conspiring to defraud Swift Capital of Wilmington, DE, through the use of third-party "co-signers."

On Wednesday (Aug. 21), Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee dismissed the indictment against defendants Demarlon Simmons, 40, of Cordova and Bernal E. Smith II, 41, of Olive Branch, Miss.

"For good cause, the motion is GRANTED," the order of dismissal read.

"It's an unbelievable sense of relief that the burden of proving my innocence and maintaining my reputation is over," said Smith, now the president/ publisher of The New Tri-State Defender.

"I'm happy to be exonerated. The whole nightmare of the situation is over."

The now-dismissed indictment alleged offenses prior to Smith assuming overall direction of the multi-media TSD.

"The government filed a motion asking that the case be dismissed, and the judge entered the order pursuant to the request," said atty. Robert Spence of Spence Walk Law Firm.

"He's a phenomenal attorney," said Smith, who plans to focus on his role as publisher/president of the oldest African-American newspaper in the Tri-State area and pursue some unfinished business.

Simmons and Smith were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft from July 2007 through January 2009.

Smith said he'd wondered why the government had handed down the indictment.

"I've had my thoughts about it, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure why," he said. "I always maintained my innocence. I knew I didn't do anything wrong."

Spence said the case was very challenging.

"I put a lot of time and effort into it. I know my client is very happy. It's a great outcome for him and his family – his wonderful wife and children. Having it dismissed and all charges dropped, I'm elated for them."

Smith scheduled a Thursday morning (11 a.m.) news conference at the National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry St., to discuss the government's indictment and the outcome. He will be accompanied by Spence, family and friends.

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