Mother-son embezzlers Randi and Dakota Smith sentenced to prison and ordered to pay over $1M in restitution

ALBANY COUNTY — A mother-son team stole from an organization that helps needy families. As they were sentenced on Monday, Andrew Stone of the the New York State Weatherization Directors Association told the court that the association “will probably be spending as much time digging out from under this as she spends in prison.”

Randi Smith, 53, of Amsterdam, and her son, Dakota Smith, 23, of Saratoga Springs, were both sentenced in Albany County Court by Judge Peter A. Lynch. In addition to their prison sentences, the pair was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to her former employer, the Weatherization Directors Association.

Founded in 1985, the association provides energy-efficiency improvements to the homes of low-income families across New York State, according to Stone’s statement.

Stone, the association’s executive director, wrote that Randi Smith drained the association’s bank account and that it has been struggling to meet payroll and pay bills ever since, which has severely impacted its ability to provide support to its network.

In his statement, Stone listed the employees he has been forced to let go or whose hours have been slashed to zero or close to zero because of Smith’s actions. Smith has permanently tarnished the association’s “impeccable reputation,” Stone wrote.

Randi Smith had been the chief financial officer and operations manager at the not-for-profit organization’s Guilderland corporate office. She was responsible for managing the company’s finances, a spokesman for the New York State Police told The Enterprise earlier.

On Sept. 24, Randi Smith pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony. Her son, Dakota Smith, pleaded guilty the following day to the same charges.

On Monday, Randi Smith was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in state prison, and to pay $831,079.20 in restitution to the Weatherization Directors Association.

Her son was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in state prison and ordered to pay $248,705.82 in restitution to Randi Smith’s former employer.

The restitution amount reached for Randi Smith included the calculation of a court surcharge, according to Cecilia Walsh, spokeswoman for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office; in the case of Dakota Smith, the dollar amount was adjusted to reflect assets seized during the initial prosecution of the case.

The crime

Over the course of seven years, from 2011 to 2018, Randi Smith wrote checks without authorization to herself and to cash, using the association’s Bank of America business checking account, totaling over $800,000. To cover up the checks, Smith created fake invoices and made them a part of the agency’s business records, according to a release from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Also, over a six-month period from November 2017 to May 2018, Dakota Smith wrote checks without authorization to himself, his construction business, and his father’s business, using that same business checking account. These checks totaled more than $300,000, according to the release. When Dakota Smith’s bank inquired about these unusual deposits, he provided a forged contract between his construction company and the agency, to justify the funds, the release said.

Stone also wrote, in a portion of his statement directed to Randi Smith, “How many hours were spent on my payroll doctoring the books, creating fake invoicing and fraudulent checks, when your valuable time could have been spent in the development and betterment of the association?”

The activity was uncovered, the state police told The Enterprise earlier, when the Weatherization Directors Association’s home office in Syracuse was notified, by its bank, of discrepancies in its accounts.


More Guilderland News