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Court reverses freeze on fugitive soccer coach’s bank accounts

UPDATE @ 6:20 p.m. (Dec. 11):

Family members of a former youth soccer coach convicted of sexually abusing a 14-old-girl once again have access to their bank accounts.

RELATED: Attorneys: Bank accounts of fugitive soccer coach’s family members unlawfully frozen

Investigators last week froze the account of Justin K. Smith, 41, and his parents. Authorities said they believed funds were being used to help Smith, who remains on the lam since he walked off the witness stand Halloween day during his trial and never returned from a lunch break. He’s been spotted in Kentucky and Tennessee, but since then his trail has grown cold, police said.

RELATED: Detective: Fugitive soccer coach uses Uber, eats at Panera in Tennessee

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“We have absolutely no reason to believe that anyone in his immediate family, his wife, his children, his parents, is helping him,” said Smith’s attorney Michael Booher.

He and attorney Adam Arnold successfully filed a court request to lift the freeze.

“It’s impeded Mrs. Smith’s ability to care for her family and three children,” Arnold said.

RELATED: Soccer coach who flees sex assault trial subject of nationwide search

Money in the account includes cash Smith drained from his public employees retirement pension after he resigned from his job at the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. They believe he was using the money to buy prepaid credit cards and phone cards to stay off law enforcement’s radar.

However, Smith’s lawyers said the accounts were in the name of Smith’s mother, his father and his wife.

RELATED Photos show fugitive Germantown soccer coach at hotel in Lexington, Ky., area

In an affidavit, Smith’s wife said that “to the best of my knowledge, any expenditures from this account were for the personal expenses of myself and my children.”

EARLIER REPORT

This news organization on Monday uncovered documents that are shedding light on the search for a runaway soccer coach convicted in October of sexual assault against a player. 

On Friday we reported that police froze one account belonging Justin K. Smith, 41,  in an effort to make it harder for him to run. 

Smith has been seen in Kentucky and Tennessee since he disappeared in the middle of his sexual assault trial on Halloween in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in Dayton.

He was absent when a judge convicted him of three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of sexual battery and two counts of sexual imposition involving a 14-year-old girl Smith coached. He had waived his right to a jury trial.

RELATED: Detective: Fugitive soccer coach uses Uber, eats at Panera in Tennessee

Smith’s lawyers say freezing the account was unnecessary because it’s affecting the suspect’s family.

“Mrs. Smith went to pay for some of her children’s expenses and she was declined,” Smith’s attorney, Adam Arnold, said Monday. 

That’s because the account investigators froze is in the names of Smith’s wife Yvonne Smith, and his mother and father, Cecil smith, Arnold said. 

Justin Smith has no access to the bank account, and his wife uses the money in there for she and her three children’s living expenses, Smith’s camp said. 

“I think the sheriff’s office, the state, through the sheriff’s office, is trying to smoke our client out,” said Michael Booher, another one of Smith’s attorneys. 

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Investigators say Smith is accessing money from an account established after he drained his public employee retirement fund from years of employment with Montgomery County. They sent a subpoena to identify the account, then obtained a court order to freeze it.

“It’s a good thing for law enforcement in that he’s not going to have the funding to continue with his escape,” said 

Isaiah Keller of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office special investigations. 

Smith’s attorneys have filed a motion to unfreeze the account, including affidavits from Yvonne Smith stating, “At no time since Justin K. Smith left town have I had any knowledge whatsoever of his physical whereabouts or how he is financially supporting himself.”

Smith’s father Cecil also filed an affidavit saying none of the funds in the accounts have been used by Smith, nor has any of it been sent to him. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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