Forest Hill Funeral Home owner back in court

The man accused of bilking millions from Forest Hill Cemetery pre-paid policy holders was back in court Wednesday.

The case has been sluggish because Clayton Smart has had a tough time getting an attorney after the state froze his funds.

Smart told Criminal Court Judge W. Otis Higgs about his troubles finding an attorney. "If they don't release the money then, your honor, I'll have to ask you to give me one," said Smart.

They were the first words spoken in public since the embezzlement case began.

Smart is accused of stealing money from funeral home policy holders.

High-powered attorney Michael Scholl was in the courtroom. "We're the first ones to actually sit down and work out a contract with Mr. Smart and talk with him about that," said Scholl.

Scholl says he's considering representing Smart.

But, most of Smart's money is frozen, turned over to a state receiver who's been returning the money to policy holders.

"There are some funds that are in Oklahoma that we believe are not in the jurisdiction of or subject to the jurisdiction of Tennessee. We believe those funds are pre-Forest Hill funds that should be released," adds Scholl.

Scholl says Smart found other money by selling his mansion in Oklahoma.

"The chancellor's going to have to make a decision whether or not to take those funds into the custody of Chancery Court and give them to the receiver or to allow Mr. Smart to use those funds to hire an attorney," said Steve Crossnoe with Shelby County District Attorney's Office.

Scholl has not taken a look at the facts in the case yet.

He says that will happen, if Smart can sort out his money problems.

Smart has been in Shelby County Jail for months now.

Next Tuesday, he'll learn if the judge will allow him to use funds from the sale of his Oklahoma home to hire an attorney.


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