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

UPDATE @ 2:39 p.m. (Nov. 20):

Fugitive ex-youth soccer coach Justin K. Smith, spotted earlier this month using Uber to get around and eating at popular restaurants in Tennessee, could be anywhere, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s detective said.

“Justin Smith could go anywhere within the United States or even try to cross the borders into Mexico and Canada at this point,” said detective Isaiah Kellar.

Surveillance images recently showed Smith in Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Kellar is urging anyone who may spot him not to approach.

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“Call 911 and let them know that Justin Smith has a nationwide warrant for his arrest and that you’ve seen him and the location he’s at,” he said. “That way law enforcement can gather information from those tips and capture him.”

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

Smith stands 5 feet, 11 inches, weighs between 275 and 300 pounds, is bald, has blue eyes and possibly a goatee. 

A big challenge in tracking down Smith is that he’s using prepaid credit cards, cash and prepaid cellphones.

“It puts us several days behind,” Kellar said.

Thankfully, he said, the sheriff’s office is getting some help from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

» PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Soccer coach who flees sex assault trial subject of nationwide search

“We’ve been able to work specifically with U.S. Marshal Service and they will take the time to assist us,” Kellar said. “They’ll do operations, plans. They’re a great partner to work with in trying to track down fugitives.”

Uber also has been cooperating with law enforcement after financial records showed Smith was using the ridesharing company.

However, he has since shut off the phone associated with the account and is no longer using that email address, according to Kellar.

Because Smith is using aliases, Kellar stressed that people call police if they see anyone matching Smith’s appearance.

“Even if the guy’s name is something completely different but he matches the description of Justin Smith, please don’t hesitate to call us,” he said.

EARLIER REPORT:

Fugitive youth soccer coach Justin K. Smith has been seen in two Tennessee cities, using Uber to get around and eating at popular restaurants, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s detective said.

» READ MORE: Soccer coach accused of inappropriate relationship with girl, 14, goes on trial

Smith, 41, of Germantown, is the subject of a nationwide search after he fled his sexual assault trial involving a 14-year-old girl he coached. He was absent two days later when a jury on Nov. 2 convicted him of eight felony counts — including unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, sexual battery and sexual imposition — involving an inappropriate relationship with the girl.

Smith was located Oct. 31 on security video at a Marriott hotel and Walmart in the Lexington, Kentucky, area the same day he left his trial in Dayton. A white Ford F150 was found abandoned there.

Detective Isaiah Kellar said Smith was in the Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, areas between Nov. 1 and 5.

» RELATED: Ex-youth soccer coach indicted on 2 more child sex-related charges

“Financial records show he was using Uber, and ate at Panera Bread, Chili’s” restaurants, and stayed in hotels in both cities, Kellar said.

It is suspected Smith, who has been using his own name as well as J. Smith and Justin House, is using cash, prepaid credit cards and prepaid cellphones.

“His current location is unknown and could be in the southern parts of the United States,” Kellar said.

It’s also unknown whether anyone is helping him, but if anyone was found to be helping Smith the detective said charges would possibly be sought.

» READ MORE: 4 cases raise electronic monitoring concerns before sex offender flees trial

Smith fled after testifying on his own behalf. The trial took a break for lunch, during which time Smith left Dayton. He cut his electronic ankle bracelet monitor, which later was found in Franklin.

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

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