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Doctor charged with murder-for-hire scheme gets new license while in jail

GREENWOOD — A doctor charged in a murder-for-hire scheme has renewed his medical license even though he’s in jail.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports Dr. Ralph Arnold Smith Jr.’s medical license was to expire on June 30. It is now extended through June 30, 2013, according to records from the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure.

Dr. Vann Craig, executive director of the Board of Medical Licensure, said Smith’s license is active through 2013 unless something happens to require the board to act.

Smith is being held in the Leflore County jail without bond.

The 70-year-old doctor is charged with conspiring to kill attorney Lee Abraham. Authorities say the plot led to a shootout on April 28 in Abraham’s office in Greenwood.

Abraham was not hurt.

Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said Smith was taken by deputies to a meeting with the medical board in May in Ridgeland. Craig said the board has taken no formal action against Smith.

“Until such time as we have something solid, the board has no dog in this hunt,” Craig said.

Asked if Smith could resume practicing medicine freely if he was released from jail, Craig said, “The answer to your question basically is yes.”

All physician licenses are renewed online, he said. Doctors pay a $200 renewal fee with a credit card, he said. State law says the Board of Medical Licensure can take disciplinary action against a doctor for unprofessional conduct, professional incompetency or if the physician has been disciplined by hospital or a local, regional, state or national medical association. It can also take action based on mental or physical disability.

Smith is charged with two counts of conspiring to kill Abraham and one count of capital murder in the death of Keaira Byrd. Smith allegedly hired Byrd to carry out a hit on Abraham. Byrd was killed by authorities during the shootout. Authorities had been alerted by Abraham.

Another alleged shooter, Derrick Lacy, was wounded. Lacy, 25, is charged with capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder and is out on house arrest.

Cordarious Robinson, 22, of Greenwood and Paul Muller, 54, of Morgan City are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder and out on bond. Smith allegedly paid Robinson $15,000 to recruit hit men to kill Abraham. Investigators have not said what Muller’s alleged connection is.

Those charged in the case are awaiting action by a Leflore County grand jury.

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