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Chandler tutor charged with fraud for allegedly concealing arrest history

Brett James Smith (Booking Photo via Arizona Attorney General's Office)

PHOENIX – A Chandler man with a history of child sex crime arrests in other states was recently charged with fraud for allegedly misrepresenting his background in order to obtain work as a private tutor.

Brett James Smith is accused of leaving information out of a name change application in Maricopa County Superior Court on or between August 2019 and April 2020 in order to hide his criminal past, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said in a press release Thursday.

A grand jury indicted Smith, who has gone by multiple names, on 15 counts for four crimes. The April 5 indictment lists two counts of forgery, one count of perjury, one count of fraudulent schemes and practices, and 11 counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices.

The indictment doesn’t get into specific details about the charges against Smith, but it is affixed with a notice saying “this is a juvenile victim sex crime case.”

Smith has a history of arrests and convictions in Illinois and Indiana under the name of Brett James Zagorac. In addition to the name of Brett Smith, the indictment lists 12 aliases, including Mr. Z, Brett Wilhelm and BJ The Educator.

In June 2020, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting for giving Smith a clearance card exemption.

“He’d been arrested no less than, that we know of, 10 times for crimes involving inappropriate touching and interactions with children, up to and including child molestation, and had actually done some jail time over it,” Silbert told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show at the time.

DPS denied Smith’s clearance twice, but the board issued a good cause exception.

Silbert’s lawsuit said Smith had been trying to get private tutoring jobs in Gilbert and Chandler.

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