MIAMI (CBSMiami/Herald) – The Reverend Gaston Smith was convicted of looting public grant money, but he wants to erase that conviction and his arrest from the public record during a Friday hearing.

In 2010, Smith was convicted by a jury for stealing from a non-profit he founded at the request of former Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, according to the Herald. Spence-Jones later beat a criminal charge related to the same grant money.

But Smith’s lawyer shocked prosecutors last month when they asked a judge to seal and expunge his client’s criminal record. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch granted Smith a “withhold of adjudication,” which means the conviction doesn’t appear on his record right now.

But, according to the Herald, Hirsch at one time represented former Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler, who was also involved at one point in the money trail. Prosecutors said that’s a clear conflict of interest, according to the Herald.

A new judge, Judge Bronwyn Miller, will be hearing the arguments Friday as prosecutors seek to overturn Hirsch’s 2013 ruling and keep Smith’s felony record intact, according to the Herald.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)


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