Hearing delayed for Billings woman accused of fraud

2013-12-16T17:36:00Z 2014-05-15T11:56:04Z Hearing delayed for Billings woman accused of fraudBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Billings woman who was scheduled to plead guilty to defrauding a bank and investors of about $150,000 had her hearing continued on Monday for medical reasons.

Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon granted a defense request to continue the plea change hearing for Angela Corson Smith, 32.

During a hearing late Monday afternoon, Assistant Federal Defender Steve Babcock said Smith was on prescribed pain medication, which made her unable to make voluntary and knowing guilty pleas to bank fraud and wire fraud.

“I 100 percent believe she’s going to go through with the pleas,” Babcock told Haddon.

Haddon ordered Babcock to submit a medical report from Smith’s doctor in which the doctor is to explain why Smith can’t proceed with her court hearing and when he thinks she will be able to do so.

“We’re not going to leave this open-ended,” Haddon said.

The judge also indicated that state District Judge Susan Watters, who is to be sworn in later this week as the new federal district judge in the Billings division, will likely hear the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr did not object to continuing the hearing.

Babcock said Smith had an emergency appendectomy and an ovarian cyst drained on Dec. 11. She was released from the hospital on Dec. 12. Smith has problems walking and is “not cognitively clear due to pain medication,” he said in court records.

Medical information that Babcock filed with the court indicated Smith was treated by Dr. Kathryn Hatch, a general surgeon at St. Vincent Healthcare.

Smith signed her second plea agreement on Dec. 11.

Haddon earlier rejected the first plea agreement in which she admitted to one count of bank fraud, prompting Smith to withdraw her plea.

The case was set for a jury trial in January, but Smith and the prosecutor reached a second deal in which Smith agreed to admit to two counts and to pay restitution of $150,800. Six other wire fraud counts are to be dismissed at sentencing. The first agreement did not specify a restitution amount.

If convicted, Smith faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

In a separate investigation, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said earlier that he is awaitng the conclusion of the federal case before deciding whether to file charges against Smith, who is suspected of impersonating a nurse at Billings Clinic.



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