Menlo Park: Menalto Cleaners owner arrested on credit card fraud charges

E. Gary Smith also evicted from Menalto Cleaners building

On the tail of being evicted from the premises of his popular Menlo Park dry-cleaning business, Menalto Cleaners, owner Edwin Gary Smith has been arrested on 40 felony counts related to credit card fraud, according to Menlo Park police.

Mr. Smith, a 63-year-old Menlo Park resident dubbed the "Mayor of Menalto," was taken into custody on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

Police said the investigation that began in October uncovered an alleged theft of more than $678,000 from at least 38 customers of the dry cleaning business. Their credit cards were "overcharged large amounts," investigators said, from December 2011 to October 2014.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Mr. Smith had been evicted from the building, located at 1921 Menalto Ave., on Tuesday, Jan. 13. Sources told the Almanac that new owners would be taking over the business.

Cmdr. Dave Bertini said no other arrests are pending at this time.

The allegations include felony identity theft, credit card fraud and elder fiduciary abuse, although all but one alleged victim is under the age of 65, Cmdr. Bertini said.

Police said Mr. Smith was taken into custody at his home without incident about 1:50 p.m., and he was booked into county jail. Bail has been set at $500,000.

Mr. Smith did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday regarding the eviction.

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Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

A real honest person, I just have one thing to say, Bookem Danno

2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Personally I will wait until more information is available, this article was far from the full story. We will see what happens but in the meantime I will presume he is innocent until proven guilty. If you talk to people in the Willows you will hear how nice Gary is and how he was a fixture of the Menalto Corners community.

1 person likes this
Posted by BW
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 15, 2015 at 6:42 pm

BW is a registered user.

Seeking the return of my only wool skirt, which I need for job interviews, and my only wool blanket. Not missing money as far as I can tell. Was completely stonewalled by the landlord's law office (whose number I got from MPPD). I'd almost rather take my chances with Gary.

1 person likes this
Posted by lou
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm

lou is a registered user.

@BW, I live down the street and saw today that the cleaners is open under a different name. I'd imagine they have your clothes inside. Good luck a general comment...I was a regular customer, and yes, Gary the owner was very chatty when in the cleaners and in the market & cafe next door. But I also heard him gossiping about other clients and talking quite snarkily about people. This of course does not mean he's a criminal. Hopefully the courts will determine whether that's true or false.

I do find it staggering that the amount of $600,000+ came from only 38 clients. How much must each one have been defrauded individually?!?

I know I'm planning to go over my credit card bills with a fine-toothed comb now!

Like this comment
Posted by sue
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 17, 2015 at 2:57 pm

sue is a registered user.

I took my daughter's wedding dress in to be cleaned in September and I am still waiting to get it back. It was supposed to be sent to a company on the east coast I believe. I was told by Gary before he had to close that he had been waiting for all this to settle then have the company send it back. Really hope it hasn't been 'lost' in all this.

Like this comment
Posted by BW
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

BW is a registered user.

Gary's sister Olivette has been running around all over town delivering the cleaning she was able to salvage from the closure. Got my blanket, got my skirt. Sue, the new occupants of the cleaning business can give you the address and phone number you need to get your stuff.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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