Man pleads not guilty to harassing phone call to clerk

DAVISON TOWNSHIP — A Genesee County man pleaded not guilty this week on charges of making a threatening late-night phone call to Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly on behalf of her then-opponent in March 2020.

Matthew Smith pleaded not guilty Monday in 67th District Court in Genesee County. He is charged with malicious use of a telecommunications device, a six-month misdemeanor.

Smith, a member of the Davison County Schools board, allegedly threatened to “poison (Kelly’s) dogs, kill them and throw them in a dumpster.” He also allegedly directed slurs at her and made derogatory comments about the state of her house.

Kelly’s then-opponent, Justin Kasieta, admitted he had been listening to the call, which he said was Smith’s idea, he said in a statement relayed to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office. However, he did not recall any threats being made.

Kelly went on to defeat Kasieta and win re-election in November. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department, Davison Township Police Department and Michigan State Police investigated the report, which was sent to the Attorney General’s office. After Genesee County’s prosecutor recused himself, Oakland County’s prosecutor was assigned to the case in December.


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