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Friday, January 17, 2014 04:40 PM

Sheriff Newell Normand, along with Harahan Police Chief Joe Lorenzo reports, Investigators from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Harahan Police Department are currently investigating four separate incidents involving what is termed a "drop the pigeon" theft scheme. An arrest warrant for Theft has been issued for Clent Smith, B/M, 58, unknown address. A photo of Smith, along with a vehicle possibly used by him in these incidents, as well as a convenience store surveillance photo is included in this release.

In the first JPSO incident, which occurred on January 6th and 7th, 2014, an 80 year-old man from Bridge City was approached by a black male subject who spoke with a heavy Africa accent in the parking lot of the Capital One bank in the 4600 block of the Westbank Expressway in Marrero. The suspect engaged in a conversation with the victim telling him he was an immigrant from Africa and that he recently acquired one million dollars from a settlement from the death of his brother. He showed the victim a large amount of US currency, and after doing so, requested a ride to Wal-Mart which the victim agreed to take him. While in route, the suspect asked the victim to turn into the Dairy Queen on Barataria Blvd. which he did. Once there, the suspect called out to a black male who he began telling him he was from Africa and was looking for a place for African Americans to stay. The first suspect showed the second suspect the same large sum of money that was shown to the victim, along with a story about the money. It was then, the second suspect began telling the first suspect that the money should be placed in a bank. The victim drove both suspects to the Capital One Bank on Barataria Blvd. One of the suspects exited the vehicle and supposedly walked into the bank. However, according to the victim, he returned rather quickly, telling them the bank was closed. A decision was made they would return the following day. The victim told the suspects he would be available to assist them; and in turn, provided them with his phone number. It was clearly evident to investigators the victim, at that time was completely unaware of what was transpiring between he and the suspects. On January 7th., one of the suspects called the victim around 8:15 AM and requested to be picked up near the Travel Lodge. After doing so, the victim drove to the Lafayette & the Westbank Expressway where the second suspect joined them. The suspects convinced the victim to drive to the Capitol One bank on Manhattan Blvd. in order for one of the suspects to obtain cash as good faith money. After doing so, the victim was shown what he was told was $11,000.00. The suspects told the victim to go to his bank and withdraw money so the other suspect could match the amount. The victim drove himself to Chase Bank on Manhattan Blvd. where he withdrew $50,000.00. When he returned back to where the suspects were waiting, a conversation along the lines of trust ensued between he and the suspects. The victim, in an effort to show he trusted the them, allowed both suspects to drive his vehicle with the money in it around the building. After not returning with his vehicle or the money, the victim called 911 to report the incident.

In the Harahan incident, which occurred on January 9th, 2014, a 75 year-old elderly Harahan man was approached by a well dress, black male who spoke with a heavy African accent as he walked to his vehicle from the Home Depot in Elmwood. The suspect asked the victim for a ride to Airline Drive, which he agreed too. Once in the vehicle the suspect initiated a conversation relative to the victim wanting $50,000.00 to donate to charity. Upon reaching the 6400 block of Airline Drive the victim and the suspect were joined by a second well-dressed black male. Once the second suspect engaged in conversation with the first suspect, both he and the victim were presented letters from suspect one. The contents of the letters, were all about suspect one receiving a settlement in the amount of $150,000.00 from a relative that was killed in the 911 Attacks. The stipulation in the letters indicated that the money could not be brought back to Africa. The second suspect told the group he would contribute $1600.00 in good faith in exchange for his $50,000.00 donation. The money would have to come from the Metairie Bank in the 7800 block of Airline Drive. After driving there, the second suspect exited the victim's vehicle and supposedly walked over to the bank to withdraw the cash. He returned shortly thereafter and presented an unknown amount of currency to the first suspect. In turn, the first suspect allegedly presented the $50,000.00 to him. It was then, the victim convinced the suspects that he too, would be able to withdraw money from his bank account, thus allowing him to receive $50,000.00 as well. The victim drove to the Tastee donut shop in the 7200 block of Jefferson Hwy which is located near the Chase Bank in the 7100 block. After withdrawing $14,000.00, the victim relocated to the donut shop where he met with the two suspects. He gave the first suspect his money, at which time the suspect told the victim his $50,000.00 was wrapped in a blue towel and had been placed in the glove compartment of his vehicle. He also told the victim him to go home and not to drive around with all that money in his vehicle. The victim did as he was instructed and upon arriving home he opened the glove box only to find shredded paper inside of the towel. He immediately called 911 to report incident.

In the second JPSO incident, which occurred on January 14th, 2014, a 53 year-old man Harvey was approached by a black male who spoke with a heavy African accent while walking out of Lowe’s on Manhattan Blvd. The suspect asked the victim for a ride to the Magnolia Discount store on Terry Pkwy. The victim agreed to drive the suspect there, and upon their arrival, a second black male who was well dressed and walked with a cane approached them and engaged in a conversation with them. The decision was for the victim to drive the two suspects to the Chase Bank on Belle Chase Hwy. After doing so, the victim told investigators suspect two walked into the bank and returned shortly thereafter, presenting them with what he claimed was about $20,000.00. From that point, both suspects spoke briefly about the trustworthiness of the bank. It was then the victim proceeded to explain that the bank could be trusted, hence, he went in and made a $5,000.00 withdrawal. Upon returning the victim handed over the money to the suspects and made positive commented about the bank. The suspects immediately fled the parking lot on foot. He immediately called 911 to report the incident.

In the final JPSO incident, which occurred on February 8, 2013, a 66 year-old man from Gretna was approached by a black male who spoke with a heavy African accent while walking out of Harbor Freight on the Westbank Expressway. The suspect asked the victim for a ride to McDonalds on the Expressway. The victim agree to drive the suspect. Once inside of the vehicle, the suspect proceeded to tell him about a large sum of money he had and inquired about what he should do with it. The suspect explained in depth that he didn’t trust banks in his country. To the contrary, the victim explained things were different here, and they could be trusted. Moments later, a second black male approached and began conversing with them regarding money and banks. Suspect two reiterated that he personally had money in the Capital One Bank at Medical Center Blvd and the Westbank Expressway. It was agreed that the victim drive to that location in order for suspect two to retrieve the money. Suspect two exited the vehicle and went into the bank returning shortly thereafter with what he claimed was $5,000.00. At that time suspect one asked the victim if he could do the same, and after replying that he could, drove back to the Chase Bank on Belle Chase Hwy. Once there, the victim retrieved $5,000.00. it was then the conversation turned to trust, with suspect one telling the victim to take his money along with the victim’s money and walk around the building. Upon returning, suspect two then asked to do the same with suspect one’s money and the victim’s money. However, a decision at that time was for both suspects to walk around the building in order for every to trust one another. The victim agreed, and after the suspects walked around the building they did not return. He immediately called 911.

As these investigations were being conducted, information was shared among JPSO Detective Stanley Brown and Lieutenant Dax Russo along with HPD Sgt. Gleber in an effort to learn the identity of the individuals involved in these crimes. Investigators reviewed countless video surveillance footage from businesses mentioned above and were able to learn the identity of an individual identified as Clent Smith, B/M, unknown address. He is described as 5’11” tall, 185 lbs., Brown eyes and black & grey hair. A photographic lineup, which included a photo of Clent Smith was presented to the victims. Clent Smith was positively identified as the suspect in the January 15th incident. Subsequently, an arrest warrant for Theft has been issued for Smith.

Anyone with information in these incidents, or who may have knowledge on the whereabouts of Clent Smith, is asked to contact Detective Stanly Brown at 364-5300, Sgt. Nicholas Gleber at 737-4800 or CRIMESTOPPERS..

Colonel John N. Fortunato,
Public Information Office
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
1233 Westbank Expressway
Harvey, LA 70058
504-363-5521 Office

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