November 19, 2005

Fake abuse plaintiff sentenced to 3 years

The Oregonian

Saturday, November 19, 2005
Thomas Edward Smolka may have been on the lam during the nine months he was in Oregon in 2003 and 2004, but that didn't mean he wasn't busy.

Smolka, 58, dreamed up a raft of scams, from filing claims with an airline for lost luggage to getting prescription drugs at a discount using a dead veteran's identity, according to federal prosecutors. But it was posing as a victim of sex abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest that landed him in trouble with federal authorities.

When deputy U.S. marshals traced him to a Pearl District loft, they discovered Smolka had done extensive research into priest sex abuse cases in Oregon and especially on Oregon's most notorious priest pedophile, the Rev. Maurice Grammond. Authorities say Smolka had checked out more than 30 case files on clergy abuse from the Multnomah County Circuit Court, and he had a handbook for sex abuse victims.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown sentenced Smolka to three years in prison for mail and bank fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

The sentence was at the high end of federal sentencing guidelines, though Brown said she considered handing down an even higher sentence given what she called the "reprehensible" nature of the fraud he committed.

Posted by kshaw at November 19, 2005 06:42 AM