Businessman denies kickbacks

A businessman is charged with receiving kickbacks from suppliers while serving as president of a Catawba County-based company that services the furniture industry.

Patrick Smith, who resigned from Cargo Consolidation Services Inc. in August, was arrested by Claremont police Thursday evening and charged with felony obtaining property by false pretense.

Smith, who turned himself in to Claremont police, was given a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Smith, who left Cargo Consolidation Services to become vice president of sales and marketing at Valdese-based Worldwide Logistics, made a first appearance Friday in District Court. His next court date is Nov. 18.

As yet unrepresented by an attorney, Smith said he will plead not guilty to the charge.

Capt. Gary Bost of the Claremont Police Department said the charge against Smith stems from his receipt of more than $21,000 from companies that were doing business with Cargo Consolidation Services, a provider of freight consolidation, third-party logistics and support services to the furniture industry.

Smith worked for the company for 20 years before joining Worldwide Logistics, a specialized furniture carrier formed last year with the merger of six furniture transportation companies.

Smith denies any wrongdoing.

The payments being questioned were commission-type arrangements that "did not affect the revenue stream of Cargo Consolidation Services" he said.

John Pope, Cargo Consolidation Services chairman, said Smith's compensation package was a fixed salary with a year-end bonus and no commissions allowed.

Ownership was unaware suppliers were being asked to make payments to Smith and would never have condoned such a practice, Pope said.

Smith is a past president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance suppliers division, and has been active on the Furniture Foundation board of directors, the Specialized Furniture Carriers Association and the National Home Furnishings Association.