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November 22, 2002 -- GREENSBORO, N.C -- A Food Lion employee has been found guilty on federal charges after allegedly awarding more than $400,000 to herself, family and friends while in charge of the grocery chain's sweepstakes.
A U.S. District Court jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding Laurie Leigh Smith guilty on all 15 counts. The conviction followed a four-day trial. Smith, 32, faces up to 90 years in prison at a sentencing hearing Feb. 3.
She is being held in jail on a $50,000 secured bond.
Jurors found Smith guilty on Nov. 15 on four counts of using false Social Security numbers, four counts of mail fraud, four counts of using fictitious names and addresses and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from mail fraud.
Smith, who was working as a promotions manager at Food Lion, admitted taking some of the money but attributed one of her relative's winnings to luck, her attorney, Carlyle Sherrill III, said.
Court records indicate Smith was using fake names and bogus addresses to collect the money herself instead of awarding prizes to a valid list of winners she received from an outside company contracted to select winners.
Food Lion also found other contests, some of which were co-sponsored by Coca-Cola, where Smith fraudulently awarded about $405,000 to herself, her husband or her relatives, according to court records.
Everyone entitled to prize money eventually received their winnings, a Food Lion spokesman said.