Oilman charged in cemetery scandal says he's broke - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Oilman charged in cemetery scandal says he's broke

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - An Oklahoma oilman, charged after authorities said millions of dollars were missing from a $90 million cemetery trust fund, told a judge Friday he's broke.

"I have nothing in the bank. I have no money. It's all been given out to other attorneys. I paid out $200,000 in attorney fees already.

That's all the cash I have. I don't have anything else, your honor," he told Criminal Court Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr. Smart, 67, who also faces criminal charges in Michigan, has been in jail without bond since he turned himself in to authorities April 26 in eastern Oklahoma, where he lives.

However, prosecutors said they doubt his claims. "We would like to submit evidence to the court that he may have access to assets," said chief prosecutor Linda Kirklen.

Another hearing was set for next Wednesday to try to determine his financial status. Smart has tried to hire a Memphis lawyer since his May 25 extradition to the Shelby County Jail, but his assets were frozen in a state civil suit to recover missing money.

Smart bought 28 cemeteries in Michigan and three in Tennessee in 2004, allowing him to gain control over their trust funds for future burials and other costs.

Before buying the cemeteries, Smart owned several oil and gas businesses in Oklahoma. Smart is charged with 39 felonies in Michigan, where prosecutors allege $70 million is missing from cemetery trust funds Smart's companies controlled.

In Tennessee, prosecutors allege that $20 million in cemetery trust funds has been lost or stolen.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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