GULFPORT -- A woman accused of soliciting a man to kill her husband at their New Orleans home faces a related trial on federal charges alleging she failed to report her slain husband's life insurance money to a bankruptcy court in the Southern District of Mississippi.
Emma Jean Raine, 51, has pleaded not guilty to a 35-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. The charges also allege she filed false income-tax returns for clients in Poplarville and Gulfport, failed to report all of her income and continued to prepare tax returns under a different business name after her electronic filing number was revoked in 2011. She was arraigned Thursday.
Raine is set for trial on a court calendar that starts Jan. 4.
She also is set for trial in the murder case in New Orleans in March.
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Raine, formerly of Poplarville and Jackson County, began making headlines in 2013 after her arrest in connection with the April 12, 2006, killing of her husband. Ernest Smith, a minister, was shot outside the couple's home in eastern New Orleans.
An Orleans Parish jury convicted the hit man, Alfred "Terry" Everette, of second-degree murder in December 2014.
Raine is accused of conspiring with her then-boyfriend, whom she later married, to orchestrate Ernest Smith's killing for his insurance money.
DA: 'Black widow'
At Everette's trial, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leo Cannizzaro portrayed Raine as a "black widow" who made a living off of killing her husbands, according to The Advocate.
Her first husband, Leroy Evans, was hit by a car in Vicksburg and was paralyzed, and died in 1994. Evans died while choking after his feeding tube was mysteriously removed, according to court testimony.
While Ernest Smith's killing went unsolved, his widow married James Raine, who was shot dead in 2011 in the house the couple built in Pearl River County with Ernest Smith's insurance money.
Emma Raine has not been charged in her other husbands' deaths.
A document in a related lawsuit shows Emma Raine, while married to Ernest Smith, increased his life insurance coverage from $100,000 to $800,000 in November 2005. The coverage included a $10,000 rider for Smith's daughter.
In February 2006, two months before Smith was killed, his wife changed the policy to add James Raine as a beneficiary in a 50-50 split in payouts, the document said.
But in March 2007, Emma Raine and someone believed to be Smith's daughter signed paperwork turning over all of Smith's life insurance to Emma Raine. Emma Raine had her own daughter pose as Smith's daughter and forge her signature on the paperwork. Emma Raine's daughter later pleaded guilty to forgery.
New Orleans police later accused Emma Raine and James Raine of offering to pay Everette to kill her pastor husband. Emma Raine was arrested seven years later. James Raine had been dead two years by then.
Everette told relatives he had killed Smith, and claimed he had thrown a 9-mm handgun in Lake Ponchartrain on his drive back to Mississippi, according to trial testimony reported by The Advocate.
Everette faces life in prison at his sentencing Jan. 5.
Records in U.S. Bankruptcy Court show Emma Raine hired an attorney three months after Ernest Smith's death to represent her interests in a claim on his life insurance. The insurance company later questioned a death benefit of $834,988.74 because of a dispute over who was entitled to receive the money. Emma Raine had received half that amount in 2009, a document said.
The funds were used to pay off relatives' debts, to buy real estate and build a home, and the Raines failed to disclose the details in their bankruptcy case, says a court document filed in 2010, the year before James Raines died.
A federal grand jury indicted Emma Raine on fraud charges Oct. 7, 2014.
The indictment includes three bankruptcy-related counts; one count of obstructing internal revenue laws for Emma Raine's income tax work in 2010 and 2011; and 31 counts alleging she filed false tax returns for calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010 by using deductions, expenses and education credits she knew her clients were not entitled to claim.
She is held with no bond.