Former Bridgeport Mayor Sentenced for Theft
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra took the seriousness of the charges and the impact on victims including the entire village of Bridgeport into account Monday when he imposed the maximum sentence of three years on the former village mayor, who earlier had pleaded guilty to theft in office.
David Smith was the former mayor of Bridgeport who stepped down late July after pleading guilty to third-degree felony theft in office and misdemeanor conflict of interest.
Smith, 49, of 205 Jacquette St., Bridgeport, had served as mayor since 2016. He was accused of stealing more than $24,000 from the village during that time by removing cash payments and corresponding cash payments and using the money for his own personal gain.
Vavra added this conviction would also bar Smith from further positions of public trust.
Leigh A. Bayer, assistant legal counsel from the Ohio Auditor of State’s office, said the total restitution figure came to $24,467, with the cost of the audit $2,460, for a total restitution of more than $26,927.
Smith’s attorney, Steven Stickles, asked for a further restitution hearing. One was set for Aug. 31.
Prior to sentencing, Stickles asked Vavra to consider Smith’s prior law-abiding life, his contributions to the community and military background. Stickles also said incarceration would mean a loss of employment for Smith and difficulty in making restitution. He asked Vavra to consider community controls in lieu of incarceration.
“This defendant…is not a prime candidate for incarceration,” Stickles said.
“I am sorry that I got myself into this situation. I apologize most importantly to my family and the Village of Bridgeport, my friends, and those I have caused to lose trust in me,” Smith said. “Show me some leniency or possibly mercy, I’d greatly appreciate Your Honor.”
Vavra pointed out that Smith began his term in January 2016, and the investigative audit covered January 2016 to Oct. 31, 2019
“I don’t know that the thefts began as soon as he took office,” Vavra said.
Stickles informed Vavra that Smith intends to appeal the sentence and asked that Smith not be taken into custody until a later date.
However, Vavra ordered Belmont County sheriff’s deputies to take Smith into custody.