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RACINE — Resident workers at a Racine halfway house for men told police a former housemate and co-worker of theirs wrote and cashed fraudulent checks totaling more than $5,000.

Robert L. Smith, 55, of Racine, was charged Friday, April 14, in Racine County Circuit Court with two felony counts each of theft against a financial institution and fraud against a financial institution, one felony count of theft, and three misdemeanor charges of theft against a financial institution, for a total of eight charges. If convicted, he faces just over 32 years in prison and/or up to $80,000 in fines.

Felony theft charges are for amounts over $5,000 while misdemeanor theft charges account for any amount less than $5,000.

The criminal complaint: theft by fraud

According to the criminal complaint, Smith was a resident of Oxford House, an AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) house for men in 2019. Residents pay $100 per week to live there, and the house is run through a democratic process during which residents gather once a month to discuss expenses and vote on paying them. It takes an 80% approval margin to pay bills.

Smith was authorized to write checks on behalf of the house on July 15, 2019, and began writing and cashing fraudulent checks for himself shortly after, the complaint reads. He cashed seven fraudulent checks between July 13 and July 26, 2019, for a total of $5,634.25. The last time anyone saw him was July 25, 2019, but he was known to travel frequently to Kenosha and Chicago.

Online court records indicate the fraud case against Smith was filed in June 2020, and a $2,500 warrant was issued for his arrest. At the time, his address was listed as Oxford House. Smith was apprehended and made his initial appearance on April 14 before Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch.

He was assigned a $200 cash bond and a $5,000 signature bond, and his address was updated to reflect his residency in Chicago. Smith will next be in court on April 26 for his preliminary hearing.

About Oxford House

The Oxford House is a nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to people recovering from addiction. There are more than 3,000 Oxford Houses in the United States and Canada.

Per the organization’s website, Oxford House, Inc. is a “publicly supported, non-profit 501(c)3 corporation is the umbrella organization which provides the network connecting all Oxford Houses and allocates resources to duplicate the Oxford House concept where needs arise.”

The Kenosha/Racine Chapter of the Oxford House is the governing body of the Oxford Houses in Kenosha and Racine.

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