A Chandler man, who has been arrested up to 10 times in other states for inappropriately touching children, has been indicted by a state grand jury for trying to fraudulently conceal his history of transgressions.
Brett James Smith, 38, became the subject of an investigation last year after he attempted to legally change his name in Maricopa County Superior Court and find work as a tutor around the East Valley.
Smith, who has used several aliases, advertised his services online and quickly found some clients in the Chandler area.
But his past soon came back to haunt him once parents started digging into Smith’s criminal history and sounding the alarm to local authorities.
Nine months after a group of parents in Chandler discovered Smith’s sketchy past, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has obtained an indictment that charges Smith with 15 counts of fraud and forgery.
Smith is accused of purposefully omitting or falsifying several facts about his past when he attempted to change his name.
Public records show Smith has been arrested at least 10 times in Indiana between 2002 and 2015 for various crimes involving children. He has been convicted at least three times for misdemeanor offenses and spent some time in jail.
The offenses typically involved Smith sliding his hand under a child’s shirt and rubbing their back. Smith was additionally accused of creating fake identity badges and teaching certificates.
Smith eventually relocated to Arizona and attempted to restart his teaching career by obtaining a fingerprint clearance card, which would have allowed him to work in the state’s public schools.
As Smith was awaiting a decision from the Arizona Fingerprinting Board, the state’s law enforcement agencies intervened by filing a lengthy complaint detailing Smith’s prior arrests in Indiana.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Heston Silbert told the board it would have been a mistake to clear Smith for teaching in the state’s schools due to the applicant’s pattern of troubling behavior.
“Smith has engaged in a prolonged series of inappropriate acts against children — even twice violating his probation conditions,” Silbert wrote in his complaint.
According to Silbert’s complaint, local authorities were first tipped off about Smith in 2018 after some Chandler residents reported his suspicious behavior.
One mother told Chandler Police she discovered Smith’s tutoring ads appeared to publicize false information about his work history.
The Chandler Chamber of Commerce informed local police something seemed “not right” about Smith when he interacted with the Chamber’s staff. He allegedly seemed “pushy” about having the Chamber introduce Smith to local businesses and school administrators.
Chandler Unified School District officials additionally told authorities Smith had asked for permission to place flyers advertising his tutoring service in the backpacks of the district’s students.
“The school district reported that Smith was persistent about being allowed to put flyers in the backpacks and became upset that he was unable to do so,” Silbert’s complaint states.
Once Silbert’s complaint went public last summer, parents around Chandler immediately discontinued Smith’s tutoring services and the defendant’s online advertisements were hastily removed.
Although some local parents claim there may have been some inappropriate behavior between Smith and their children, none of the charges contained in the defendant’s indictment accuse him of abusing juveniles in Arizona.
Smith was taken into custody on April 13.