PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For almost 35 years, Lester V. Smith Jr. was the president and event director of the Portland Marathon. Now, the 83-year-old resident of Tomball, Texas is a convicted tax evader from the funds he stole, the US Attorney’s Office in Oregon said.
For 5 years beginning in 2012, Smith either made or had others make transfers of money from the bank account of Portland Marathon Inc., which was a charitable organization that planned and operated the event.
The money went into his personal checking account, which he used to pay credit cards, wrote checks to himself, paid for home remodeling, shopping sprees, furniture and other goods and services. One time he used PMI money to buy a $60,000 Infiniti sport utility vehicle.
During that same 5-year period, Smith and another person set up a for-profit company, Next Events Productions, to work with PMI about running events. Over that time span, PMI paid more than $302,000 to Next Events — which investigators found a “substantial portion was transferred to Smith’s personal bank account.”
In that period between 2012 and 2017, Smith did not tell his accountant about the payments he got from PMI or the money through Next Events nor the money he used to buy the Infiniti. In that time, he “underreported more than $1.2 million in taxable income,” the US Attorney’s Office said.
He was indicted in February 2022 on 7 counts of wire fraud, attempting to evade and defeat income taxes.
On Tuesday, Smith pleaded guilty to tax evasion. He was sentenced to 3 years federal probation, 8 months of home confinement and ordered to repay $411,279 to the IRS.
Both the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation were the investigators on the case.