Thursday, March 08, 2001

Judge clears man in robbery

Apartment complex neighbor implicated

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A College Hill man was cleared Wednesday of any involvement in the robbery of a gas station in January.

        Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Fred Cartolano ruled that the charge of receiving stolen property against Todd E. Smith was a mistake. The judge said Mr. Smith, 39, clearly played no part in the robbery.

        Mr. Smith said he is glad the judge cleared him of the charge, but vindication did not come soon enough to save a job he lost after his arrest.

        “It's ruined my life,” Mr. Smith said.

        Police charged Mr. Smith after they found money from the robbery stashed in a laundry basket at his apartment.

        But Mr. Smith said another man accused in the robbery, Chris E. Burton, stashed the money there without telling him. The men are neighbors in the same apartment complex.

        Mr. Smith said Mr. Burton knocked on his door shortly before police arrived to arrest him. He said Mr. Burton must have hidden the money during his brief visit to his apartment.

        After reviewing the evidence Wednesday, Judge Cartolano concluded Mr. Smith was right. He declared Mr. Smith not guilty and told him he should not have been charged in the first place.

        Mr. Smith said he held two jobs before his arrest, but he lost one of them because of the charge.

        Mr. Burton, 40, is charged with robbing a Clark station on Colerain Avenue. Police say he brandished a knife, demanded money and fled to his apartment.


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