Victim Of Douglas Councilman Eric Smith Calls For His Resignation At Council Meeting
Douglas City Council Member Eric Smith said he would not resign from his post after the woman whose home he pleaded guilty to illegally breaking into called on him to do so at Monday’s meeting.
Smith pleaded guilty to breaking and entering/illegal entry of his neighbor’s home belonging to Douglas resident Maria de Leon.
Citing a list of other misdemeanor convictions in Smith’s past criminal history, de Leon said Smith’s behavior is not in keeping with what otherwise is a position of trust - a seat on the city council - and that elected position ought to serve as model for other residents of Douglas.
De Leon, a single women who lives near Smith, but had never met him, is requesting the immediate resignation of Smith who plead guilty on June 26 before Allegan County District Court Judge William Baillargeon.
The conviction could have resulted in a sentence of up to one year in jail, but Smith was instead ordered to pay $425 in fines or serve 30 days in jail. Smith paid the fine.
“I want to live in my house, I want to live in my community without being worried that someone is going to enter my home without my consent,” said de Leon. “
“I bring it to your (council’s) attention so that you give it some thought. I hope to get a response,” added de Leon
She got very little response from Smith’s fellow council members on Monday; only one council member - Lisa Greenwood - spoke to the matter, and it was a brief response merely to say that city officials had already responded to de Leon’s call for Smith to step down or be removed from city council.
“We don’t have a legal recourse to remove a council member,” said Greenwood, referring to Douglas City Attorney Philip Erickson’s review of the matter.
Erickson said the council has no authority to remove an elected member of the council and that an elected officials could only be removed from office by means of a recall by a majority of the electorate.
“I believe the city manager (by providing de Leon with the attorney’s opinion) did respond. Whether it is a response you wanted, that is a different matter,” said Greenwood.
According to police and prosecutor’s records, Smith earlier this summer entered the women’s home on two separate occasions, once when she was not home and only contractors working on a construction project were there.
The first time, Smith was confronted by the contractor when he was roaming the home, and de Leon was informed about it, but she decided not to get the police involved.
On the second occasion, neither contractor nor the victim were at the woman’s home when Smith illegally entered it.
Smith told investigating officers he entered the home to check on a loud smoke detector and remove the batteries out of it.
Smith told police that others neighbors had heard the loud noise and had asked him to check it out as well, but police could not verify what he had told them nor could the find any neighbor who said they had heard the alarm.
One neighbor, reportedly, told police he didn’t even know who Smith was.