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Hate crime offender moved

Sent to a mental facility in plea deal

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / July 26, 2011

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A Medford man who pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this year to sending hateful and threatening letters to dozens of NAACP chapters and predominantly black churches in the Northeast and for using his work supervisor’s name in the missives to discredit him, was released yesterday to a mental health facility.

Jeffrey Smith, 46, had asked to be sent to the facility as part of his decision to plead guilty to a total of 13 counts of making threats to destroy property by fire and also mailing threatening communications. He had been in custody since his arrest in April, 2010.

US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro sentenced Smith to 15 months in federal prison with the understanding that Smith would be released for time served and immediately be turned over to the custody of the Department of Mental Health.

Smith will remain in supervised custody at a state facility in Lynn for at least three years while serving a probation term.

US Assistant Attorney S. Theodore Merritt had asked that Smith be required to comply with his probation conditions while at the facility and that he be prohibited from contacting the lead victims in the case.

Tauro praised Merritt and Smith’s lawyer, Thomas M. Hoopes, for finding a suitable disposition for the case.

“Both counsels’ innovative behavior is the reason we are able to solve this problem,’’ the judge said.

Smith, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, did not address the court, with Hoopes telling Tauro, “He’s scared to death.’’

According to prosecutors, Smith had sought to implicate his boss at Novartis, a security company, whom he thought had mistreated a black co-worker, by sending threatening letters to NAACP groups, individuals, and predominantly black churches in his boss’s name.

In some of the letters, Smith wrote, according to court records, that he did not “like African-American or minorities in charge as supervisors of my security department at Novartis, nor [do] I like them as president of the United States. For that I am going to burn down your offices just [to] let you know how I feel.’’

Smith, whose company did contract work for Securitas Security Services USA Inc., also sent letters to his supervisor’s neighbors calling him an unregistered sex offender from Great Britain who should be deported.

Hoopes has said his client suffers from spectrum disorder, a mental disability, and the letters were an attempt by a troubled man to discredit his boss.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia