Charleston wedding planner says he's innocent of fraud charges

Charleston wedding planner says he's innocent of fraud charges
Published: Jan. 23, 2013 at 5:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 35-year-old Charleston wedding planner, who's accused of using a couple's credit card to pay off debts, says he's innocent.

The Charleston Police Department arrested Robert Lawson Smith, commonly known as Lawson Roberts, and charged him with financial transaction card theft. He was granted a $10,000 bond on Monday.

Smith says he believes the charges against him will be dismissed and says he has the documents to prove his innocence. According to Smith, the incident is 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 say Smith's arrest stems 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.

A search of Smith's criminal history from the State Law Enforcement Division indicates he was arrested in 2006 for a federal chartered financial institution crime, a felony, and the sale of alcohol for free or two for one basis, a misdemeanor.

The history also indicates he was arrested for check fraud of over $1,000 in 2009 and 2012.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved.