Former CFO of Scottsdale schools pleads not guilty

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Laura Smith (Source: Scottsdale Unified School District) Laura Smith (Source: Scottsdale Unified School District)

The embattled former CFO of the Scottsdale Unified School District entered a not guilty plea during her arraignment Thursday.

Laura Smith pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud schemes and nine counts of public official conflict of interest.

A grand jury indicted Smith in May.

[RELATED: Ex-Scottsdale district CFO indicted in conflict of interest case]

While serving as the district's CFO, investigators said Smith approved thousands of dollars in payments to a company run by her sister, Professional Group Public Consulting, Inc. Smith approved the purchase orders and change orders between February and October of 2017.

[RELATED: Scottsdale Unified attorney: Former CFO violated state law]

According to the AG's office, Smith failed to disclose that both she and her sister, Caroline Brackley, had substantial financial interests in the company.

An investigator hired by SUSD determined Smith was actively involved in hiring the company, including deliberately contacting her sister to find out PGPC’s prices.

Smith had previously signed a conflict of interest disclosure form with the district but failed to disclose how much of an interest she had in PGPC, and the substantial interest of her sister.

[RELATED: Scottsdale district's CFO resigns amid conflict of interest allegations]

Smith resigned from the district earlier this year. In her resignation letter, Smith said it was a "genuine and innocent mistake" that she didn't disclose she and her sister had a financial interest in PGPC.

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