Former Columbus politician, Howard Smart has been arrested and charged with grand larceny.
A warrant was recently issued for Smart’s arrest for his alleged role in a scrap metal theft.
Warrant Officers Lance Luckey and Kelvin Lee reportedly visited Smart’s home on Monday and spoke with his son who informed the officers that his father was at work at Weyerhaeuser. Smart turned himself in to the Columbus Police Department late Monday afternoon after learning the warrant officers were looking for him. He was then taken into custody and booked at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.
His bond was set at $2,500.
Sources close to The Packet say that theft occurred in late November when Smart and “his crew” pillaged a scrap yard behind the new Dollar General on Hwy. 69. Before the construction of the new dollar store, trees hid the scrap yard from view but once clearing began, the pile of metal could clearly be seen from the road. Sources claim that Smart and several men brought an excavator and two drump trucks to the yard and loaded a reported $40,000 worth of metal onto their trucks, hauling it away. Items that were taken include a forklift, steel beams, metal pipes, two school buses, numerous vehicles and countless pieces of scrap. Smart then sold the scrap to Columbus Scrap Metal.
Tony Dunser of TrueGrit Sandblasting owns the scrap with partner, Riley Moore. Dunser says that once Smart was identified as the thief he reportedly admitted his guilt but was not arrested. Raymond Hackler with the Columbus Police Department was the lead investigator on the case. Dunser claims Hackler told him that he was “swamped with work” and wanted to make sure he had all the information before an arrest could be made. Hackler could not respond to that allegation because of the CPD’s newly enforced policy forbidding officers from talking to the media.
When questioned by The Packet, the Columbus Police Department would not offer any additional details on the suspected theft or of Smart’s subsequent arrest.
Smart ran unsuccessfully against District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith in the 2011 August Democratic primary. Smart lost to Smith with 971 votes to Smith’s 1,265.
In addition to his bid for Supervisor, Smart sued Lowndes County for racial discrimination in Aug. 2011. He lost the suit less than one week before also losing the supervisor’s race. Smart based his claim for racial discrimination on his dismissal from his job at the Lowndes County Road Department nearly four years ago. Smart was laid-off from the department after his position was eliminated. He was later offered a position as road foreman but declined the job, saying instead that he would “have his day in court.” After two days in federal court in Aberdeen, Smart lost the suit.
Smart’s court date for the grand larceny charge is April 5.