A federal grand jury has said that a former Kentucky court worker stole more than $400,000 from two trusts.
John Anthony Schmidt, who is 66 years old, was charged with one count of wire fraud and two counts of bank fraud.
Schmidt, a lawyer, was the master commissioner in Bullitt County from the early 1990s until 2019, when a judge took away his job.
In Kentucky, master commissioners help circuit courts with things like land sales that were ordered by the court.
Schmidt stole $81,000 from the sale of a property in Bullitt County, according to a 2021 ruling by the state Judicial Conduct Commission.
Smith got the money in the form of two different checks. The commission found that instead of putting the money in an official account, he changed the stamps on both checks and put the money in an account he controlled.
Because Schmidt did something wrong, the commission said it would have fired him, but a judge had already done that.
Schmidt was accused of stealing a lot more from the trusts by a federal grand jury. The accusation says that between September 2014 and January 2019, $435,000 was stolen.
The indictment said that Schmidt had access to the two trusts’ assets and moved money from them to his personal account or an account for his law company.
A civil action says that in one case, Schmidt was the trustee of a trust that was set up to give money to a widow.
When Schmidt became a trustee in 2012, the trust had $586,271 in cash and a commercial building worth $330,000. The beneficiary found out in 2019 that Schmidt had moved at least $194,500 from the trust to his own accounts, according to the claim.
The federal accusation didn’t say if this trust was one of the two that were being charged for.
He is said to have spent money from the trusts on himself. The charge said that Schmidt used money from at least two of the trusts to make up for money that was missing from the master commissioner’s account.
Schmidt went to federal court in Louisville for the first time on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.
If he is found guilty of all three federal charges, he could spend up to 80 years in jail. However, he is likely to get a sentence that is much shorter than that.
Schmidt was also charged with theft and abusing public trust this week in state court in Bullitt County.
These charges are partly about the $81,000 mentioned in the Judicial Conduct Commission’s decision, but they are also about other alleged wrongdoing, said Hillview Police Department detective Chris Boone, who looked into the case.
Boone said that the supposed thefts from the trusts are not part of the state’s case.
“We found proof that he stole, so we’re charging him with that,” Boone said.
Schmidt can be tried by both state and federal police at the same time.
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