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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Wronged landlord says pursuing collection against shuttered non-profit basically a "waste of time"

Despite winning a nearly $5000 civil judgement against a Fort Smith non-profit earlier this year, a local commercial landlord says he has decided against continuing to pursue collecting on the debt, citing time away from his family and having to expend more in legal fees to adjudicate the affair.

Local landlord Garold Cozart, who rented a commercial building at 616 North 10th Street to 501c3 non-profit Pay it Forward Fort Smith for just over a year said "I really think it will cost me 2-3 days off work with nothing in return."

Cozart was granted relief in court for several months of unpaid rent and for damages done to the building when founder and Pay it Forward board president Darla R. Lackey failed to show up for a second court date in mid-February after creating a scene during the first court date a few weeks earlier. Lackey refused to cooperate with the court proceedings after the sitting judge refused to remove the publisher of Today in Fort Smith from the courtroom,

Lackey, who has a well-established pattern of fabricating allegations against anyone who challenges her legally--or on social media for that matter --failed to pay the rent at the end of last year that was several months in arrears and had money added onto the judgement after Cozort documented a number of damages done to the building after he graciously gave her access to the property after the first court proceeding.

Lackey was obligated to file a schedule of assets with the court, which, according to court officials, she failed to do as of May 10, 2022. Arkansas state law mandates Cozart would have had to confirm Lackey's assets and file even more legal fees in order to enforce the judgement. Had he done so, Lackey would have been subjected to contempt charges, a body attachment and put in jail until she paid off the balance.

"I won't get anything out of her," Cozart said. "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip."

Cozort also cited the time away from his family and the vindictive nature of Lackey, which he and others have experienced first-hand, as reasons for taking the financial loss.

Also, according to information with the Arkansas Secretary of State office while the 501c3 is currently listed in "good standing" the paperwork currently filed with the state lists at least two board members who are no longer involved with the organization.

Lackey has a checkered past, having served time in the Kansas State Prison system two decades ago on forgery, theft and drug charges, She is also no stranger to evictions, having been removed from at least four homes in the past three years in the Fort Smith area.

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