GREENFIELD — An ex-sheriff’s deputy fighting to get his job back pleaded guilty to harassment Wednesday in the criminal case against him, court records show.
Jake Smith, 27, was fired from his job as a third-shift K9 handler after his ex-girlfriend accused him of sending thousands of text messages to her cellphone and calling her repeatedly, sometimes making threats, she said.
The court accepted a plea agreement filed Wednesday in which Smith pleaded guilty to harassment, a misdemeanor. In return, the remaining counts against him, a misdemeanor charge of intimidation and a felony charge of official misconduct, have been dropped.
Smith will serve six months of probation and is ordered to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend.
Had Smith been convicted of a felony, he would not legally be able to carry a weapon and presumably could not perform the duties of a law enforcement officer.
Greenfield police were called to Smith’s ex-girlfriend’s home on Feb. 2 after she reported that Smith had followed her from work to a local restaurant and then began sending threatening messages because she had a male co-worker in the car with her.
While officers were still at the woman’s home, Smith called again, and his ex-girlfriend put the call on speaker phone so officers could listen in, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Police recorded that call and one that followed it after the woman hung up on Smith. Those calls came from Smith while the officer was on duty, prompting the official misconduct charge, according to court documents.
The woman told officers that she recently went to a college class and left her cellphone at home. When she returned, she said, she had 48 missed calls and texts from Smith.
Over a seven-week period, investigators traced 3,208 text messages and 164 phone calls from Smith to his ex-girlfriend, court records state.
The messages and calls alternated between Smith being verbally abusive and begging his ex-girlfriend to take him back, according to court documents. They broke up in December.
In one phone call, Smith said he was going to “come to her apartment and take care of her and then drive himself to jail,” which officers took as a direct threat on the woman’s life, Hancock County Prosecutor Michael Griffin said when charges were filed.
A special prosecutor, Gillian Deprez of Marion County, was ultimately appointed in the case.
After the sheriff’s merit board voted to terminate Smith, the deputy filed a lawsuit against the county to get his job back.
That case will be heard again, this time in Henry County, according to court documents.