The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association is suing its former executive director for borrowing money in the association’s name for personal use, according to court records.
The association is accusing former executive director David Smith of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Smith allegedly took out loans, used a company credit card and abused association finances in excess of $100,000, according to court documents.
The MSSA is a statewide fishing advocacy group that holds tournaments throughout the year. The 2018 spring tournament was canceled after the association learned of its financial troubles.
Under Smith, the association’s financial liabilities increased by “1,765% (not a typo) and that its total equity had declined by 53 percent,” according to the complaint. The parenthetical is in the complaint.
“As a direct and proximate result of defendant Smith’s conversion of plaintiff MSSA’s interests in and to its assets, cash, and other property interests, defendant Smith purposely deprived plaintiff MSSA from its property, and its rights associated with the ownership and/or control of its assets, cash, and property, to which plaintiff MSSA has suffered and continues to suffer a severe economic injury,” according to the complaint.
Smith did not return calls for comment. The association fired him in January after the board of directors discovered the group was being evicted from its Pasadena headquarters off Fort Smallwood Road. The association is no longer at that address, the phone lines don’t work and its website is down. Smith opened the website in his name. He was hired by MSSA in 2008 and became executive director in 2009.
Frank Holden, chairman of the association’s board of directors , declined to comment.
The lawsuit was filed June 5. A trial date has not been set, according to online records. Anne Arundel County police are investigating the fraud accusations, but criminal charges have not been filed, police said.
“This particular investigation has been very lengthy due to the number of records and subpoenas required to build their case,” said Lt. Ryan Frashure, county police spokesman. “It also took quite a bit of time for the association’s accountants to complete an audit and determine exactly how much money was missing and from where. Once the detective has all the information/evidence they need, the case will be presented to the State’s Attorney’s Office and a determination will be made on what charges apply.”
The court records paint a long-running scheme in which Smith is accused of abusing his power for personal gain while keeping the association’s board of directors in the dark. Smith borrowed in excess of $100,000 in MSSA funds, the documents show.
Smith took out two loans from M&T Bank totaling about $70,000, according to the complaint. Smith also took out loans from High Speed Capital, LLC and Sky Cap Funding, according to the complaint. The association alleges Smith deceived the banks by claiming the money was for MSSA, but used the money for himself.
The court records also allege Smith didn’t pay the winners of the fall 2017 fishing tournament. The top winner of the tournament was supposed to receive $6,300.