Charges dismissed against wedding planner in card theft fraud

Lawson Roberts.
Lawson Roberts.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charges were dismissed against a 35-year-old Charleston wedding planner accused of using a couple's credit card to pay off debts.

According to officials, the charges were dropped against Robert Lawson Smith because prosecutors did not have specific dates of the alleged credit card fraud. Prosecutors said they would come back with warrants for each specific date in the case.

Attorney David Aylor was in court on Wednesday representing Smith, commonly known as Lawson Roberts, who was arrested on Jan. 20 and charged with financial transaction card theft.

Late last month, Smith told us the charges against him will be dismissed and said he had the documents to prove his innocence. According to Smith, the incident was all a misunderstanding.

"The allegations that are being presented against us are just unfortunate," Smith said on Wednesday."They received the wedding that they have stipulated...we have done no wrong."

Authorities said Smith's arrest stemmed from a report filed in August of 2011 by Wendy Shearer, a Miami woman who contacted police regarding possible fraud committed by Smith.

Shearer said she and her husband had hired Smith as their wedding planner in October of 2010. A police report states that the couple paid Smith a total of $65,000 for their wedding.

According to the woman, $63,000 of those funds were to pay vendors who had contributed to the wedding.

Police say the woman then received a call on May 16, 2011 from her husband's credit card company stating that there were charges starting to show up on the couple's card. Authorities say an investigation revealed that Smith had not paid some of the vendors and used the victim's credit card to charge an additional $28,000 in funds.

"He's an extremely good, charismatic con man," said Shearer, "He used our credit card we found out after we contacted some vendors to pay his past debt from two to three years prior to our wedding."

"Where I think some of the confusion sort of lied, was as a producer we work with our vendors and we're given one rate," Smith said in response to the allegations. "Given the budget, there's a standard series of mark ups that occur in our industry. I think their perception was,'You said it cost this, but we went behind your back and found out it cost that.'"

According to Smith's website, Smith's celebrity clients have included: Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, Nick Nolte, B.B. King, Michelle Branch, Randy Jones, The Dave Matthews Band, Heath Ledger, Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Taylor, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Tom Hanks, Patrick Swayze and Barbara Streisand.

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