By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
AP Legal Affairs Writer
A former Ohio school resource officer convicted of coercing sexual behavior from minors is cooperating with the FBI in ongoing investigations and should receive a lighter sentence than the charge might otherwise require, the government said in a court filing.
The government’s recommendation means former officer Todd Smith could receive a sentence as low as 10 years compared with one as high as 17.
Smith, 50, was originally scheduled for sentencing today before federal judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus. Marbley on Thursday rescheduled the hearing for June 28.
Smith was accused of exchanging thousands of graphic text messages in 2012 with two underage high school girls at the Columbus school where he was posted, according to court documents.
The government asked Marbley to take into consideration Smith’s cooperation “in ongoing investigations conducted by the FBI,” according to a June 11 court filing. But the government also noted that at least one of the victims feared Smith and that Smith tried to thwart investigators.
The FBI discovered in July 2012 that Smith was having an illicit relationship with a 15-year-old girl. A second relationship with another 15-year-old girl was then discovered that involved Smith and the girl exchanging more than 6,000 texts, according to information presented at his plea hearing in January.
Smith was arrested after an FBI sting operation, but not before trying to hide his phone in a Columbus police cruiser, according to the government.
“Smith encouraged all parties to keep their illicit relationship a secret and advised at least one child to lie if questioned by school authorities about the nature of their relationship,” according to the filing by assistant U.S. attorneys Douglas Squires and Michael Hunter.
After Smith said he would hate her if she told anyone about their relationship, the victim “reported to her parents and the FBI that she felt threatened by this statement because ‘He’s a cop. He has a lot of power over me,”’ according to the government’s filing ahead of his sentencing.
Smith pleaded guilty in January to one count of using a cellphone to entice two underage minors to engage in sexual activity.
During a bond hearing last year, Marbley called Smith’s alleged actions “violence of the worst sort” after listening to a prosecutor and FBI agent read sexually graphic text messages Smith exchanged with the girls.
Smith was a veteran police officer with no criminal record before the sexting accusations, his attorney said in a June 7 court filing. Smith also partly blamed his abuse of alcohol and steroids for his actions, said attorney Sam Shamansky, who said Smith acknowledges a prison sentence is necessary for justice.
“Smith has accepted full responsibility for his criminal actions and demonstrated genuine remorse not only for the conduct itself, but also for the harm he caused,” Shamansky said in the filing.