Michigan school board member sentenced to probation for ‘malicious’ phone call


GENESSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WNEM/Gray News) — The Genesee County Republican party chairman, who also sits on the Davison School Board of Education, has been convicted over a phone call incident.

Matthew Smith was placed on one-year probation, ordered to pay $650 in fines and costs and ordered to have no contact with Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly, whom he admitted to calling the March 6, 2020. Smith said he made a phone call to help a friend of his, WNEM reported.

Kelly claims Smith threatened to kill his dogs, but Smith denied making the threat.

Smith pleaded guilty to the plea agreement at his last preliminary hearing on November 22. He was charged with one count of malicious use of telecommunications services.

As part of his sentencing, Smith must also complete a cognitive awareness program as well as a 1,000-word essay on political intimidation in society.

The court accepted the Holmes Youthful Training Act agreed to in the plea agreement. Smith will not be required to find full-time employment, but he will be required to complete 240 hours of community service, excluding the Davison area.

The School Board Integrity Committee, which has started a petition to recall and replace Smith on the school board, called him a “convicted felon.” saying in part, “he has demonstrated that he continues to lack the emotional maturity and integrity to serve on our local school board.”

The group called on Smith to resign: “Our community can then move on with leaders who don’t have these issues, who have already grown up and follow the cardinal code.”

“He apologized to me several times after speaking. I got very emotional,” Kelly said. “I feel relieved. I really hope Matt Smith never does something like this again.

Smith said he has no intention of leaving.

“Absolutely not. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not giving up on anything. I made a small mistake calling a Democratic official and criticizing him late at night. It was over the top to threaten the dogs, threaten her, it was proven today in court, it never happened,” Smith said.

Kelly insisted that Smith threatened to poison and kill his dogs.

“For the past two years, I’ve been falsely accused of threatening to poison and kill dogs and it never happened,” Smith said.

“The phone call was a criticism call. I wasn’t even paying attention to what time it was. Obviously my friend was running against her. And he was criticizing her performance at work. He was trying to figure out what was going on. with the unions. She was under heavy fire the day before for the unions. I apologize for that. No one should be called late at night and surprised,” Smith said.

With the case over, Smith said he was looking forward to moving on, which Kelly said she was also trying to do.

“It’s a tough thing to go through. I don’t wish that on anyone,” Kelly said.

Smith is a former independent employee of WNEM.

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