Former Marathon President Accused of Stealing $1M+ From Charity

A federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment today charging the former president and event director of the Portland Marathon for defrauding the charitable organization that had backed the event since the early 1980s.

Lester V. Smith, Jr., 80, of Tomball, Texas, has been charged with wire fraud and tax evasion.

According to court documents, for nearly 35 years, Smith served as the president and event director of Portland Marathon Inc. (PMI), the charitable organization formerly responsible for planning and operating the Portland Marathon. In these roles, Smith managed the organization’s day-to-day operations and finances, and had sole authority to approve expenses paid from PMI’s business bank account. 

Beginning in January 2012 and continuing until at least April 2018, Smith is alleged to have made or directed others to make unauthorized transfers of funds from PMI’s bank account to his own personal checking account, paid various personal credit cards with PMI funds, and wrote unauthorized checks from PMI payable to himself. On one occasion, Smith used a PMI check to purchase a $60,000 Infiniti sport utility vehicle. Smith also used stolen funds to pay for home remodeling projects, shopping sprees at department stores, home décor, furniture, and other luxury goods and services. While defrauding PMI, Smith is also alleged to have substantially underreported his taxable income to the IRS in at least four different tax years. 

In total, Smith is alleged to have stolen more than $1 million from PMI.

Smith will make his first appearance in federal court on March 10, 2022.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Tax evasion is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation. Claire M. Fay, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, is prosecuting the case.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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