Event organizer

Former Portland Marathon organizer charged with embezzlement

Runners start the Portland Marathon in an OPB file photo from October 6, 2019. A former marathon organizer is facing charges of embezzlement from the non-profit organization that organizes the race.

Kaylee Domzalski/OPB

A grand jury has indicted the former Portland Marathon organizer for embezzling more than $1 million from association coffers.

The jury indictment, released Thursday, accuses Lester Smith, 80, of stealing funds from the nonprofit between 2012 and 2018. Smith was then president and director of the Portland Marathon. He has since moved to Tomball, Texas.

Smith was charged with wire fraud and tax evasion.

The indictment alleges Smith stole money to fund home improvement projects, shopping sprees at high-end department stores and other luxury goods.

Smith led the Portland Marathon as president and event director from 1982 to 2017. indictment – ​​had funds transferred to his personal accounts, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors also said Smith used a check from Portland Marathon accounts in 2015 to purchase a $60,000 Infiniti sport utility vehicle under the organization’s name, then re-registered it under his wife’s name two years later. The indictment also says he used the nonprofit’s funds to pay ‘person A’s personal rent’ and then had them repay some of those funds directly to the bank account. of Smith.

Person A was in charge of the accounting records for the marathon’s QuickBooks software, according to the indictment, and Smith had them disguise numerous transfers as a “note receivable” in those records.

The indictment adds that Smith under-reported his taxes, as he failed to report the disguised income he received from the Portland Marathon.

Smith’s final years with the Portland Marathon were mired in controversy. In 2016, police threatened to stop the race when the marathon failed to implement a crowd safety measure, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive. A number of riders that year went off the rails.

Portland officials initially denied the marathon its license the following year, as Smith refused to alter the race route to accommodate a police shortage.

The following year, the Oregon Department of Justice discovered that Smith had stolen more than $865,000 from the Portland Marathon. The race was canceled that year. The snow under new management.

Smith will make his first appearance in federal court on March 10. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Tax evasion is punishable by five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.