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Local businesses shafted by accused arsonist, restaurant owner

Local businesses shafted by accused arsonist, restaurant owner

Tracy Smith, the co-owner of the Red Steer restaurant implicated in the arson fire that gutted the Turlock eatery, was arrested again on Tuesday for check fraud.


POSTED July 31, 2009 10:51 p.m.
The chances of ever eating one of the Red Steer’s locally renowned French dip sandwiches again took a nose dive on Tuesday when co-owner Tracy Smith was arrested for check fraud.
Smith, already accused of setting the fire with his cousin Jeremy Britt that destroyed the Turlock Red Steer, was charged with three felony counts of check fraud.
According to the latest affidavit for his arrest, Smith’s finances were unraveling as he tried to get the Red Steer in Modesto up and running.
According to the affidavit, Smith’s bank account for the Red Steer at US Bank was charged $1,350 for returned check and overdraft fees during the month of April.
Turlock Police investigators believe there could be several businesses and individuals who were given checks by Smith that have gone unpaid, but so far only three have come forward to press charges.
The affidavit shows Smith wrote checks to Pacific Tire and Wheel, JD Baker Enterprise Inc., and Custom Shower and Glass for a total of $9,524.35 and all were returned for insufficient funds.
On April 13, the affidavit states Smith wrote a check for $1,550 on the Red Steer account to Pacific Tire and Wheel for new tires and rims for his Chrysler 300. The check was subsequently returned because, according to the bank records listed in the affidavit, Smith’s account balance was $882.05.
According to the affidavit, the owner of the tire shop left messages with Smith’s secretary numerous times but got no response and when he tried calling Smith’s cell phone he found the number disconnected.
The company filed a criminal complaint against Smith with the Turlock Police Department on July 20.
On April 22, JD Baker Enterprises installed counter and table tops at the Modesto Red Steer and was to be paid $16,598. Smith gave the company a check drawn from the Red Steer account for $5,974.35, when according to the information in the affidavit, he had $110.06 in the account.
The owners said they tried contacting Smith numerous times to collect the debt and that he gave them “the run-around” and failed to pay the outstanding balance, according to their statement in the affidavit.
The company contacted the TPD on July 16, the day after Smith’s arrest on suspicion of arson, and filed a criminal complaint.
On April 28, Smith gave a Red Steer check to Custom Shower and Glass for $2,000 for work done at the Modesto restaurant. The check was returned because the balance on the account was $207.77, according to the affidavit.
After failed attempts to collect payment the company filed a criminal complaint on July 21.
Smith is currently out on bail.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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