[UPDATED with Defense Move to Dismiss Criminal Case:] Christopher Ryan Smith's Family Sues Alleged Killer, His Accomplice, Employees and Family

See the update at the end of this post about the accused killer's defense filing a writ in the Court of Appeals to dismiss the criminal case. Also, the marital status of the victim's parents has been corrected in the original post.

Chris Smith surfs
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 17, 3:29 P.M.: The family of the late Christopher Ryan Smith, whose body has never been found, is suing his accused murderer and business partner Edward Younghoon Shin in Orange County Superior Court. Steve and Debi Smith accuse Shin of stealing their son's identity so he could cash in on the former pro wakeboarder's assets. The Smiths in February filed a $30 million lawsuit against the city of Laguna Beach claiming its police force botched the murder probe now being conducted by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

See also:

Christopher Ryan Smith Family and Sheriff's Department Use Blog in Hopes of Finding Murder Victim's Body
Christopher Ryan Smith, Missing Man Said to be Murdered by Business Partner, Subject of Search That May Have Yielded Clues
Christopher Ryan Smith's Family Files $30 Million in Claims Against Laguna Beach for Cops' Disappearance-Murder Probe

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Edward-Younghoon-Shin_ocda.jpg
Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department
Edward Younghoon Shin, accused murderer and slimy businessman
But, as detailed by Courthouse News, the legal complaint against Shin includes many details that will no doubt come out in his murder trial. Sheriff's investigators claim the Irvine family man confessed to the slaying, but he pleaded not guilty last May.

It's easier to make sense out of the Smith family suit against Shin, the 800 Exchange business he and Smith co-founded, 800 Exchange vice president Ernesto Aldover, Shin's parents James and Karen Shin and Shin's accused accomplice Kenny Kraft if we back up several years and work through to where things stand today.

2008: Smith worked for LeadPoint, a Los Angeles company that generated leads for salesmen, while Shin was with competitor LG Technologies in the San Fernando Valley. Despite being promoted to president of LG, Shin secretly started a third lead generator, LP Services. As the head of LG, Shin hired Smith as a consultant, and LeadPoint fired Smith the same day. Smith cut ties with LG by the end of the year.

March 2009: Shin left LG under a cloud of controversy.

April 2009: LG sued Shin, Smith and others in Riverside County Superior Court, alleging fraud, collusion, theft of leads, misappropriation of trade secrets and more. Shin alone was accused of funneling $1 million of LG's money into starting up LP, and LG went after his and his wife's joint bank account. The same day the suit was filed, Shin and Smith co-founded 800 Exchange. According to the Smith family suit, Shin convinced Smith to have Aldover, who is also a lawyer, defend him in the LG case, knowing that as "an inexperienced and malleable solo practitioner working out of a storefront office in Torrance," Aldover would provide incompetent counsel and leave Shin with a financial advantage in their company.

Late 2009: Police arrest Shin for embezzling money from LG. According to the family suit, this marks Smith's first fears something's "fishy" with his partner.

May 2010: Shin cuts deals to plead no contest to embezzlement to avoid prison time and settle with LG for $700,000, which included the company dropping its claims against other defendants, including Smith. But Smith now wanted nothing to do with the "confessed embezzler" and made arrangements to have Shin buy him out of 800 Exchange for $1 million, the family suit maintains.

June 2, 2010: In an email to Smith, Aldover writes: "Based on our discussions, I will insist that the moneys [for the buyout] be put in an escrow first and that the operating agreement be signed before you sign the settlement."

June 4, 2010: Shin is supposed to complete the buyout, but Smith writes in an email to Aldover that he fears his partner may be up to something and suggests moving the funds to a management company first "to make sure he [Shin] doesn't have room for fraud. He is itching to do it again. Also, we need all statements up to prior day of all activity in the US Louvers account given to us. It can be provided by the bank if need so Ed [Shin] doesn't white out anything WHICH HE WILL TRY." (Note: Brackets and capitals are in the complaint.)

(That was the last day anyone saw Smith alive. The family, sheriff's investigators and the Orange County District Attorney's office believe Shin lured Smith to 800 Exchange under the pretenses of completing the buyout, murdered his partner and, with Kraft's help, disposed of the body, cleaned up the office and repainted it.)

Sponsor Content

Now Trending

From the Vault