The case of the former St. Thomas businesswoman who admitted to defrauding her clients in court is now entering the penalty phase. On Tuesday, Chief District Judge Robert Molloy accepted the guilty pleas declared by defendant Alexandra Smyth at a hearing held Sept. 20.
Smyth operated Perfect Balance Tax Preparation Service on St. Thomas in 2018 and later started a hurricane recovery nonprofit called Perfect Heart. She initially faced 19 counts of fraud and related charges after customers complained she accepted payments for tax bills and diverted the funds for her personal use.
In documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly before the change of plea hearing, prosecutors alleged that Smyth also collected funds meant to help the Family Resource Center fix its storm-damaged roof and instead used the money to cover personal expenses.
On Tuesday, Molloy accepted a plea deal on Counts two and 10 from the 19-count indictment. Count two charges that on April 25, 2018, after the defendant deposited tax payments from her clients into her personal bank account, she withdrew $1,375 for payment to a travel company.
Count 10 charges that on Sept. 17, 2018, Smyth withdrew $7,604 from diverted funds deposited into her bank account and used it for her personal benefit. Because the transfers were made by electronic means, the charges amount to wire fraud.
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Molloy, on Tuesday, also ordered the preparation of a pre-sentencing report to be used to formulate a penalty.
Sentencing in the Perfect Balance, Perfect Heart fraud case is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2024, in District Court, St. Thomas, at 9 a.m.