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Victim broke assailant's knife: Ex-boss says accused almost 'too nice'

Cory Daniel Smith seemed his typical, easy-going self Friday as he worked past midnight, shuttling passengers through Fargo and Moorhead in his taxi.

Cory Daniel Smith seemed his typical, easy-going self Friday as he worked past midnight, shuttling passengers through Fargo and Moorhead in his taxi.

Laurie Dodd, co-owner of Lucky 7 Taxi, said she joked with him from the dispatcher's radio into Saturday's early morning hours. In the one month he had worked for her, the 28-year-old earned a reputation as a polite, sociable driver who sometimes seemed "almost too nice," Dodd said.

"He was definitely one of the last ones I would have thought we'd have a problem with," she said.

About an hour after Smith last bantered with his boss, police say he tried to kidnap a female customer near Dike East in Fargo. The woman resisted and fought off her assailant until police arrived, even breaking the attacker's knife in the struggle, police said.

On Monday, Cass County prosecutors charged Smith, 319 Broadway, with attempted kidnapping, aggravated assault and terrorizing. The kidnapping charge alone carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years without parole.


Smith was not asked to enter a plea to the charges. East Central District Judge Georgia

Dawson granted him a public defender and set his bail at $20,000 cash.

Smith spoke little during his appearance.

When Dawson asked if he wanted to speak regarding his bail, he hesitated for a moment and quietly replied: "I don't know." Earlier he said he pays about $650 a month to support one child and is divorced.

Before closing, Dawson asked if he wanted to say anything.

"Um, not at this time," he said.

On his application to Lucky 7, Smith said he was good with people and helped teach English to international students for the U.S. Army while he was stationed in Fort Gordon, Ga., Dodd said.

He said he served in the military from 1997 to 2002, she said.


A background check, done by Fargo Police and required by a city ordinance, showed no problems, Dodd said.

Smith told Dodd he had worked several months at Taco Bell, where he was an assistant manager, before applying for the taxi job.

He told her he wanted more hours and better pay and was excited about trying the new line of work, Dodd said.

John Serati of Fargo, who owns all of North Dakota's Taco Bell franchises, said Smith was fired after working briefly for one of his restaurants. Serati said he couldn't discuss details of the dismissal, only that the circumstances had nothing to do with the type of crime Smith's now accused of.

Serati, who received a referral of Smith from a Minneapolis franchise, said he and some of his other workers were shocked at news of the arrest.

So, apparently, is Dodd's family.

After the arrest, Smith's stepmother called Dodd from Wisconsin and said the family never saw any signs that he might attack a woman.

Just last week, Smith said he was "so happy working for (Lucky 7) and loved his job," the stepmother told Dodd.


Smith will be asked to enter a plea to his charges at a July 22 preliminary hearing. He did not return a call to comment for this story.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538

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