Former Forest Hill Funeral Home owner to enter guilty plea - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former Forest Hill Funeral Home owner to enter guilty plea

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The former Forest Hill Funeral Home owner accused of stealing millions of dollars from thousands of Mid-Southerners said he is ready to make a deal.

After a year of waiting, there is a possible plea deal for Clayton Smart.

Smart was charged with embezzling millions from trust funds of customers who prepaid for funerals and cemetery maintenance in Michigan and Tennessee.

"I can tell you spending three and a half years at 201 Poplar in the Shelby County Jail is a miserable experience," said Smart's attorney Lee Gerald.  "There is no up side to it."

Gerald announced Friday his client will now plead guilty to theft, embezzlement and possibly other charges in federal court in Memphis and in Michigan.

Smart has entered into a negotiated settlement with prosecutors.

Under the tentative agreement, Smart would:

-Plead guilty in criminal court in Memphis to theft over $60,000 and a recommended sentence of 10 years in prison.

-Plead guilty in Michigan state court to theft, embezzlement, racketeering or other charges.

-Plead guilty to federal tax charges to be brought in US district court in Oklahoma and transferred to federal court in Memphis for disposition.

Gerald said the proposed settlement and sentencing must be approved by the judge in each court.

"He is pleased this sentence will most certainly allow him to come out of custody on his own two feet, hopefully in about four years," said Gerald.

A hearing has been set for later in January.

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