A former candidate for Faulkner County sheriff will go to prison after admitting he attempted to discredit a political rival in the 2012 election.
U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. on Friday sentenced Harold Allen Smith, 47, to one month in prison, an additional month of community confinement and one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of transferring a false birth certificate through the mail in April.
Smith was also sentenced to serve 100 hours of community service and was not issued a fine, due to the fact that Smith's financial situation rendered him unable to pay one, Marshall said during sentencing.
Smith addressed the court prior to hearing his sentence, at which point he expressed remorse for his crime.
"First, I want to apologize to Mr. Shock," Smith said. "I got caught up in a campaign."
Smith added that what he did was "stupid" and additionally apologized to Shock for "causing his family so much trouble."
Marshall agreed with Smith.
"You were right, Mr. Smith, that it was a stupid thing to do," Marshall said when addressing the court.
Smith, who was a candidate in the Republican primary for Faulkner County sheriff, met with several individuals in spring 2012 to discuss ways to prevent Andy Shock from winning the primary, according to a previous news release from U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer.
During the discussions, it was suggested that Smith drop out of the race and start an anti-Shock campaign. As part of the plan, Shock was to create and send out fake birth certificates meant to indicate to voters that Shock had fathered an illegitimate black child, according to the release.
Shock, who spoke to the court prior to the sentence being read, asked Marshall to "consider a significant punishment" for Smith, calling the crime "malicious" and "senseless."
On March 28, 2012, Smith and another person drove to Hooks, Texas. After arriving, Smith mailed 12 envelopes containing the fake birth certificate and a note in each of them to prospective voters.
Shock went on to win the primary and the November general election.
Outside the federal courthouse in Little Rock, Shock said that, while he's "trying" to forgive Smith for his actions, he wasn't there just yet.
"I'm a very forgiving person," Shock said. "I can forgive anyone from doing anything to me. Really, I'm struggling with the part of my family. Mainly my children and some of the reactions my children had to face. That's hard to get over."
Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.