FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A Davison school board member avoided jail time and eventually will receive a clean criminal record after allegedly threatening a county clerk in 2020.
Matthew Smith was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation and $650 worth of fines and court costs under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. His criminal record will be wiped clean if he successfully completes probation.
A Genesee County judge also ordered Smith to avoid all contact with Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly. He allegedly called her late at night on March 6, 2020, and threatened to kill her dogs.
Smith said he made the call to help a friend. Kelly claims Smith threatened to kill her dogs, but Smith has denied he made that threat.
Smith remains on the Davison Community Schools Board of Education, but a recall effort continues against him. Community members working to remove him from the school board are collecting signatures to place the recall up for election.
Smith released the following statement to ABC12 about the incident on Tuesday evening:
Over the course of the last year and a half, I’ve been accused of making a threatening phone call to a Democrat official. Many have jumped to conclusions without being presented the full story. I’ve had to remain silent due to pending litigation but now I can share my story.
Yes, a call was made by me, but it was not a threatening call as alleged. In March of 2020, I called a Democrat official my friend was running against, and criticized her. The candidate was under fire the previous day for issues with the Union. The call was late at night and I have apologized to her for disturbing the peace. I plead to an annoying phone call because in truth that is what it was: an annoying phone call. Who would’ve known a late night phone call that was considered annoying was against the law? I didn’t then, but sure do now.
However, what has hurt me the most is that while I have stayed quiet on the issue as the case worked its way through the court system, my accuser, and political adversaries had continuously told the public that I “threatened to poison and kill her dogs”. This is simply not true and the truth finally came out in court today. I also had two witnesses that verified there were absolutely no threats.
What is more disturbing, I love animals, especially dogs! My Yorkie, Mater, is twelve years old and has been my faithful companion. The idea that I would harm any animal, especially a dog, is beyond comprehension to me.
When I was contacted by the Police, they asked if I made a “threatening” call to poison and kill dogs. I said, “No.” I then contacted the Police and filed a report to get it on record that I was being accused of threatening to harm dogs when in fact I did not. I also said if there was a call from my phone number threatening to harm dogs, it would have been a spoofed call because I never made a threatening call. I have not lied or changed my story.
I have never threatened harm to anyone or their dogs. I am happy the truth is out and the people signing petitions to remove me from several boards now know the truth, which is important because they have been signing with false pretenses and without me being able to tell my side of the story. In fact, those collecting signatures are telling people I am a “dog killer”, and putting up posters of dogs to appeal to the voters.
I believe it is also important to note that my accuser lives 500 miles away in the UP in Houghton County. I have never been there and have no plans to go there. The distance between my house and Houghton County is the equivalent of driving from Davison to Washington, D.C.
I accept responsibility for my actions, and admit I should not have made a phone call so late at night. I have learned that you shouldn’t call anyone late at night, especially an elected official. But to then twist a call, team up with local adversaries, and put out lies two weeks before an election is also wrong. As I’ve learned, if I wouldn’t have called in the first place and got involved trying to help a friend, I would not have opened myself up to any of this.
The court case is finally over. I was NOT convicted. I am ready to move on and have learned from this. However, those that have put out false narratives against me in the media need to be held accountable.
The truth is out. I appreciate all those who have supported me and stuck by my side during this process. This has made me stronger. I am ready to advocate now more than ever for my community, and I hope to never see anyone else smeared wrongfully.”