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Building firm president resigns after drug arrest

Kevin W. Smith steps down at Ajax Building Corp., a major statewide contractor, after a cocaine arrest in St. Pete Beach.

By JAMIE THOMPSON
Published November 13, 2004

The president of a Tallahassee construction company that specializes in multimillion-dollar public projects has stepped down after his arrest on a felony cocaine charge in St. Pete Beach last month.

Kevin W. Smith, the former president and owner of Ajax Building Corp., was arrested Oct. 22 when police responded to a 911 hangup call at the Holiday Inn. An officer glimpsed small baggies with cocaine residue and arrested Smith, police said.

Smith was president of a company started by his late grandfather, Block Smith, who built his company name by restoring historic buildings in Tallahassee and expanding Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium.

Ajax has built schools across the state, and also worked on an expansion of the Pinellas County Jail and the renovation of the Pasco County courthouse. The company currently is involved in renovating Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, erecting a new chemistry building at Florida State and a health care and education center at the University of South Florida.

As president, Kevin Smith has "proved crucial to the company's phenomenal success," according to a company Web site.

When police responded to the Holiday Inn, Smith invited the officer into his room, where the officer saw a rolled-up $20 bill with cocaine residue in plain view, as well as a plastic baggie with 5.2 grams of powdered cocaine, according to an arrest report by the St. Pete Beach Police Department.

Smith told the officer he had been using drugs since college, and bought the cocaine from "some guy" in an Orlando bar for $100, police said. He was arrested on a charge of cocaine possession and booked in the Pinellas County Jail.

Since his arrest, Smith has entered "one of the best treatment centers in the country," said his brother, Jay Smith, a vice president at Ajax.

"Kevin recognized his need for medical treatment for his chemical dependency," Jay Smith said.

Jay Smith said the company had not been, and would not be, hurt by his brother's drug habit.

"Ajax has continued to show significant growth about every year in business," Jay Smith said. "We've grown to include more than 150 hardworking and talented employees. That clearly demonstrates it's not the effort of one individual."

A vice president, Bill Byrne, has been promoted to president, Jay Smith said.

He did not know what the future held for his brother.

"He's committed to remain in treatment as long as necessary," Jay Smith said. "This is a personal issue for Kevin and his family."

Times researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report. Jamie Thompson can be reached at 727 893-8455 or at jthompson@sptimes.com

[Last modified November 13, 2004, 00:49:09]


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