Camden Sheriff May Be Fined $3,300; Election Opponent Files Complaint over Disclosure Forms

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Byline: GORDON JACKSON

WOODBINE -- Camden County Sheriff Bill Smith faces a $3,300 fine for failing to file an accurate list of his property and business holdings on his financial disclosure forms in 2001, 2002 and 2003, if a recommendation by the Attorney General's Office is upheld by the state Ethics Commission.

The complaint was filed by Rich Gamble, a candidate for Camden County sheriff who was defeated by Smith in 2004. In his complaint, Gamble said he discovered 10 pieces of property and direct ownership in three businesses that Smith failed to list in his financial disclosure forms filed in 2001.

The complaint also lists eight pieces of property and direct ownership in three businesses that Smith failed to reveal in his 2002 financial disclosure forms and the address of a business in his 2002 and 2003 disclosure forms.

The disclosure forms from all three years were amended in 2004 to identify the property Smith failed to list in response to Gamble's complaint, according to the state Ethics Commission. Gamble said the Ethics Commission also discovered Smith's interest in one business, First National Bank, that he failed to discover when he filed the complaint.

"When I discovered it, I was taken back by how much there was," Gamble said. "He just wasn't derelict one time. We were shocked and we wondered why he didn't disclose everything."

Every constitutional officer, elected state official and executive head of every state department or agency, whether elected or appointed, is required to file a financial disclosure form covering the previous calendar year by July 1 each year, according to state guidelines. Smith could have faced a $1,000 fine for each asset he failed to list, according to the Ethics Commission.

"Based on the facts and circumstances, the state Ethics Commission found probable cause that the respondent violated the laws, rules and regulations of the commission," according to the notice state officials sent to Smith about the suspected violations. …