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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Non-profit organization evicted from building after violating rent options of lease agreement

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

The saga of the seeming demise of a Fort Smith non-profit went through another chapter today in Fort Smith District Court as a judge granted an eviction sought by a commercial property owner against Pay it Forward Fort Smith.

The court granted the eviction after an outburst in court following an attempt by PIFFS founder and director Darla Lackey to have our reporter removed from the courtroom based on a year-old courtesy letter from the Fort Smith prosecutors office advising no-contact with Ms. Lackey.

(Like numerous other false police reports she has filed in the past fourteen months, the letter was based on blatant falsehoods and merely advised our reporter of the penalties for misdemeanor Harassment. Today in Fort Smith was at the courthouse this morning in a business capacity to cover the aforementioned eviction process that was filed against Ms. Lackey. We have had no contact with Ms. Lackey since December 17, 2020 and continue to be maligned by her unwarranted attack.)

Wednesday's court session was scheduled for 8:30 a,m. Our reporter was in the hallway outside the courtroom at 8:20 when Ms. Lackey spotted him and went to the Fort Smith prosecutor's office to get a copy of the letter she claims to be a "restraining order". She then went to the sheriff's office and came back with a deputy.

The deputy advised the court of the situation and our reporter was asked to step outside the courtroom. At that time, our reporter advised the deputy of our constitutional right to be in a public courtroom reporting a legitimate story about this ongoing situation.

After consulting with Judge Wendy Sharum the deputy interrupted our reporter while he was on a call to our attorney and said the judge had ruled we could be in the courtroom as long as we understood the possible ramifications of the January 14, 2021 courtesy letter from Fort Smith prosecutor Samuel Terry. We agreed, saying we have not had and do not desire any contact with Ms. Lackey.

At that time. Ms. Lackey created an outburst in court, yelling "No, .no, no...he cant be in here. He has been stalking me for two years. He follows me everywhere, and he has never bought a media license" at the judge, who advised her to calm down. She continued her theatrics before pointing to our reporter and screaming "Put this in your newspaper. You're going to jail you **&^%$#%^#!" and storming out of court,

The judge then granted the eviction sought by the owner of the building, who documented Lackey and Pay it Forward were at least five months behind on rent and had a history of promises made and broken over the second half of 2021.

The owner changed the locks on the building in early January after refusing to renew the lease and sought the legal eviction a week later that resulted in Wednesday's court action. He told Today in Fort Smith the organization and Lackey was continually behind on their rent during the time of the lease.

It's not the first eviction Lackey has faced, having been evicted from personal homes on three different occasions in the past two years as well as previous evictions in the past. She was accused of misusing PIFFS grant money in 2020 in order to facilitate one of those moves, although the Fort Smith Police Department found the claims "unfounded" after a cursory investigation and deferred the investigation to the Arkansas Attorney General after multiple complaints.

Ms. Lackey was allowed to register the non-profit with the state of Arkansas despite having a felony record dating back to 2001 which included convictions for Forgery, Theft of Property and drug-related charges for which she served time in the Kansas prison system.

Ms. Lackey immediately made several inflammatory social media posts about our reporter, Today in Fort Smith, the district court judge and personnel, including a "Google Review" about the Sebastian County Courts after storming out of the courtroom.

The owner of the property which housed Pay it Forward Fort Smith said that he was making arrangements to allow responsible board members and volunteers to remove any and all contents of the building before he puts it up for sale.

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