The Genesee County Republican Party Chair, who also serves on the Davison School Board of Education, has been sentenced in a malicious phone call incident.
Matthew Smith has been placed on one year of probation, ordered to pay $650 in fines and costs, and ordered to have no contact with Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly, who he admitted to calling on March 6, 2020. Smith said he made the call to help a friend of his. Kelly claims Smith threatened to kill her dogs, but Smith has denied he made that threat.
Smith pleaded guilty as part of the plea deal during his final pre-trial hearing on Nov. 22. He has been charged with one count of malicious use of telecommunication services.
As part of his sentencing, Smith must also complete a cognitive awareness program as well as a 1,000-word essay about political bullying in society.
The court accepted the Holmes Youthful Training Act that was agreed upon in the plea agreement. Smith will not be required to find a full-time job, but he does need to complete 240 hours of community service, excluding the Davison area.
Smith serves on the Davison School Board of Education and is the Genesee County Republican Party Chair. He was also a former freelance employee of TV5. The Committee for School Board Integrity started a petition to recall and replace Smith on the board of education. The committee issued the following statement regarding Smith's sentencing:
"Matthew Smith is now a Convicted Criminal. While Judge Crawford did grant Matthew Smith "HYTA" status, he made clear that this is a "conviction", pursuant to his guilty plea.
We appreciate Judge Crawford addressing Matthew's credibility problems over the past year and a half and wondering out loud why Matthew wasn't charged with filing a false police report as well. Yes, judge. We wonder too.
We agree with the prosecutor and judge in their admonition to "Grow Up and Be a Man". In his half-hearted apology today... "I'm sorry for disturbing you"... and in taking the time to change the emphasis from how he negatively impacted the life of another, to how his crime has impacted HIS life, he has demonstrated that he continues to lack the emotional maturity and integrity to serve on our local school board.
Judge Crawford said today that Matthew has to dig himself out of this hole. The parents of his district, who are exhausted with his nonsense, would like to again demand that he start by resigning from our children's school board so he can complete his cognitive awareness training, community service and his 1000 word essay on the impact of political bullying in America. Then as the judge said, to go one year without any "abusive, harassing, intimidating or threatening behavior", toward ANYONE. Our community can then move on with leaders who don't have these issues, have done their growing up already, and who follow the Cardinal Code."
Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly talked about Smith.
"He did apologize to me several times once he spoke. I got very emotional," Kelly said. "I feel relieved. I hope Matt Smith truly does never do anything like this again."
Smith said he has no plans to walk away.
"Absolutely not. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not stepping down from anything. I made a little mistake by calling a democrat official and giving her criticism late at night. It's been blown out of proportion to threatening dogs, threatening her, that's been proven today in court it never happened," Smith said.
Kelly insists that Smith did threaten to poison and kill her dogs.
"For the last two years I've been falsely accused of threatening to poison and kill dogs and that never happened," Smith said.
Smith explained what happened during the phone call.
"The phone call was a call of criticism. I wasn't even paying attention to what time it was. Obviously, my friend was running against her. And it was criticizing her job performance. It was trying to figure out stuff going on with the unions. She was under heavy fire the previous day for unions. I apologize for that. No one should be called late at night and startled," Smith said.
With the case being over, Smith said he looks forward to moving on. Which is what Kelly is trying to do as well.
"It's a tough thing to go through. I don't wish it on anybody," Kelly said.