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Sonic Automotive CEO David Smith indicted on 4 charges; court case moves forward

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Sonic Automotive Inc. CEO David Smith was indicted by a Mecklenburg County, N.C., grand jury this week on four charges including felony assault by strangulation, according to the court and prosecutor’s office.

The procedural action moves his criminal case forward in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court after Smith waived a probable-cause hearing Dec.1.

In addition to the felony assault charge, the grand jury on Monday indicted Smith, 46, on misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, assault on a female, and interfering with emergency communication, said Meghan McDonald, community liaison coordinator in the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.

Smith’s next court date, a scheduling conference for lawyers, is set for May 18, Jessica Davis, public information officer in the county trial court administrator’s office, wrote in an email to Automotive News.

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Smith was arrested Oct. 5. A 22-year-old woman not related to Smith told the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department that she was assaulted and restrained at a Charlotte home. She had minor injuries of bruises and scratches, according to the police report.

Smith has yet to be arraigned. While Smith’s lawyer, George Laughrun, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, he previously told Automotive News that Smith would plead not guilty.

Smith has led Sonic, the nation’s sixth-largest new-vehicle retailer, since September 2018 and has worked more than two decades for the publicly traded company in Charlotte that was co-founded by his father, Executive Chairman Bruton Smith.

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Shortly after Smith’s arrest, Sonic’s board issued a statement in “steadfast” support of him and indicated he told the board he was innocent of the charges.

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