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Irish “Heiress” Who Conned Reality TV Producer Arrested Again

Marianne Smyth, an American woman who conned a reality producer and allegedly several other figures in and around Hollywood between 2013 and 2017, has been arrested in Maine as Northern Ireland seeks to extradite her to face charges.

Smyth — whose colorful theft from American Ninja Warrior and Shark Tank producer Johnathan Walton as she claimed to be an Irish “heiress” was the subject of a 2020 story in The Hollywood Reporter — was arrested in the town of Bingham on February 23. Smyth stands accused of running a mortgage scam in Northern Ireland and the U.K. is looking to charge Smyth with four counts of fraud by abuse of position and four counts of theft. According to a complaint from an assistant U.S. attorney fulfilling the U.S.’ extradition treaty with the U.K., in four instances Smyth allegedly defrauded clients to the tune of £135,570 (around $173,000) while working as an independent mortgage advisor in Northern Ireland between 2008 and 2010.

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Smyth’s attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

This isn’t Smyth’s first brush with the law. She was convicted by a Los Angeles court of grand theft in 2019 in Walton’s case, and spent time in jail before being released early during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that sentence, she took a plea deal in a separate case where she was charged with grand theft by embezzlement for allegedly stealing about $200,000 from former employer PacificIslands.com while also in L.A. Years earlier, Smyth was charged with writing bad checks and fraud in Tennessee and grand theft in Florida, among other counts.

This latest development has “thrilled” Walton, he says. As THR previously reported, his journey with Smyth began in the spring of 2013 when they were neighbors at an apartment complex in downtown L.A. As the two befriended each other, Smyth convinced Walton that she was an Irish “heiress” battling cousins to receive her inheritance of 5 million euros. Coming to consider Smyth his best friend, Walton ended up lending her nearly $70,000, expecting to be repaid when she received her funds. But after learning about one lie that he says unraveled many of the others, Walton went to the police and spoke out in public about his situation before prevailing in court in 2019. (Smyth, through the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, declined to speak for THR’s 2020 story.)

Ultimately, Walton says, he uncovered dozens of others who claim to have been conned by Smyth. In the 2020 story, THR cited several people in the entertainment industry — including a costume designer and two producers — and in Southern California who say that the Maine-born Smyth presented herself as an Irish heiress or Irish psychic with them. In one case, she allegedly impersonated actress Jennifer Aniston over email and text with a boyfriend and in another case was said to have alternately pretended to be hockey coach Jack Capuano, former hockey player Garth Snow, L.A. Deputy District Attorney Heba Matta and an Irish mobster named “Finnegan.”

After pursuing his court case against Smyth, Walton launched a podcast called Queen of the Con focused on con artists — now in its fifth season — and is currently working towards getting a private investigator’s license. “I’ve kind of turned into this con hunter now,” he says. “I help victims hunt down their own con artists to get justice. That’s what I do now in my free time.” Since she served her time in L.A., Walton has tracked Smyth as she began a new limited liability company in Maine and began offering life coaching and alternative therapy services under the name Lucia Belia. Lucia Belia is “an Emissary of Satan, a practitioner of Black Magic, a psychic with Clairsentient, Claircognitive, Clairtangient, Clairvoyant, and channeling gifts,” according to one of the company’s websites. According to Walton, who obtained audio of what he says is Smyth discussing this effort, Smyth also recently claimed to be doing medical and refugee evacuations from Ukraine.

Walton says he’s been assiduously feeding information to the detective assigned to her case in Northern Ireland for years, hoping for extradition, even providing an address for Smyth weeks before she was arrested at that same location. (Northern Ireland first issued warrants for Smyth’s arrest in February 2021.)

“This is something I’ve been working hard on for the past seven years and even as that sentence escapes my mouth, seven years, I was beginning to believe it would never happen,” Walton says. “So I’m thrilled.”

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