Calling his crime hurtful not only to his opponent but also to the state and nation, a federal judge sends a former sheriff's candidate to federal prison.
Harold Smith's desire to be Faulkner County Sheriff overpowered his sense of decency.
He told the court today that he got caught up in the campaign, his emotions took over...and that he was sorry.
A guilty plea the helped 47 year-old Smith of Greenbrier avoid being indicted and avoid a jury trial, but he couldn't avoid a sentencing hearing.
Smith admitted he created a false birth certificate for a fictitious child, drove to Texas and mailed it to a dozen Faulkner county addresses.
"It was an attempt to damage the character and reputation of his opponent, fellow republican Andy Shock.
In a statement to the court, now-Sheriff Shock read in part that the plan to link him to "...an illegitimate African American child...reflects not only on the participants own prejudices but on their erroneous perception of the prejudices of the people of Faulkner county."
Judge D. Price Marshall agreed, saying it was "Not only time, but past time for our country to get over and get past racial divisions."
"He did something very stupid...which he admitted in court," says Little Rock attorney John Collins, who represented Smith. "He did something illegal...which he admitted in court. But the racial nature of it was not intended to be racist. It was more out of frustration for what had been happening to his family...which is biracial."
"A message with any political campaign is refrain from being negative," says Shock. "There is a difference between going after your opponent for a decision that they have made while in office or while seeking office in regards to the office that they're running for. But getting personal...and getting really nasty...it's uncalled for. And I hope the court's decision will maybe sway some people from getting so nasty in the future."
In 30 days Smith will report for a one month stay in federal prison, probably in Texarkana...which will be followed by another month of community confinement and 100 hours of community service.
Air date: August 16th, 2013
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