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Smelser given till Tuesday to accept offer

September 21, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The District Attorney's Office has made a settlement offer to Brawley resident Teri Smelser, charged with embezzling about $400,000 from local service groups.

While the details of that offer were not released, Deputy DA Karla Davis said Thursday the offer will remain open until Tuesday.

If the offer is not accepted by then, the prosecution's case against Smelser will move toward a trial that might be held toward the year's end.

On Thursday, Davis met with Smelser's attorney Richard Strickland of El Centro, and Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras to discuss a settlement.


Strickland, who was in court this morning, was not available for comment and did not return an earlier call from this newspaper.

Davis has said any offer extended to Smelser would not grant her probationary status, meaning the DA's Office would seek to have her serve time in custody.

Smelser, who has a long history of involvement in the community, is accused of embezzling funds from some of the service groups with which she was a member.

Those groups are the Cattle Call Rodeo Committee, the Pioneers' Museum cattlemen's gallery and All Saints Episcopal Church in Brawley.

She also is charged with elder financial abuse and giving out false grant deeds.

Smelser was arrested Oct. 20.

Davis said Smelser has paid back a portion of the money she is accused of embezzling but said that does not excuse the alleged crimes committed. She added it also should not excuse Smelser from serving time.

Davis said if the DA's offer is not accepted, there likely would be no further offers. She said the next step would be to conduct a pre-trial hearing during which a preliminary hearing would be scheduled.

The pre-trial hearing is set for Tuesday.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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