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Can’t beat ‘em at the polls? Slash their tires

By   /   May 21, 2014  /   No Comments

PLEADS NO CONTEST: Republican Gary Smith, seen here in a 2012 campaign photo, is about to be sentenced for slashing the tires of one of his opponents and a former campaign manager.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. – A former congressional candidate in New Mexico draws high honors when it comes to loopy behavior.

Tuesday, Gary Smith in an Albuquerque court pleaded no contest to aggravated stalking. He’s charged with repeatedly slashing the tires of his opponent in the 2012 Republican primary for Congress, Janice Arnold-Jones.

Smith was also suspected of slashing the tires of his former campaign manager, Rhead Story.

The incidents happened in 2012, with Story reporting that 54 tires on his vehicles were slashed and Arnold-Jones reporting $4,000 in damage from punctured tires in cars belonging to her and her husband, John Jones.

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After three such incidents, the Jones family installed security cameras around their home in northeast Albuquerque and captured these images of a man with an ice pick:

[youtube P23kNnmmM_c#t=16]

 

Smith, then 65, originally denied it was him on the videotape, but he was arrested in January of 2013.

After sitting in jail for more than a year, Smith entered his plea Tuesday afternoon before a district court judge, who deferred sentencing until June 3.

Smith faces up to 30 months in prison but may get credit for time served and could be released on probation.

“This man tortured us for seven months,” Wanda Story, Rhead Story’s wife, told the Santa Fe Reporter. Rhead Story died of heart failure last year.

“The fact that we got targeted is very scary, and it’s clear that something is very wrong with him,” Arnold-Jones told New Mexico Watchdog on Tuesday night. “For us, the bigger issue with Mr. Smith is safety, because you can’t predict this kind of behavior.”

Smith signed up to run against Arnold-Jones in the GOP primary for the U.S. House seat in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. A longshot who had never run for political office, Smith’s signature petitions qualifying him for the June primary ballot were challenged by Arnold-Jones. A district court judge agreed, saying too few of the signatures were valid, thus kicking Smith off the ballot.

Smith was angry after the decision, telling KOB-TV at the time, “When you go to your own kind, your own brother, your own sister, and they stab you in the back repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly.”

Arnold-Jones and Wanda Story are seeking restitution.

One other thing: Smith still isn’t out of the woods.

He could be extradited to El Paso, Texas, to face charges from his former next door neighbors, who say tires on their cars were punctured and that Smith threatened to burn down their house.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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Since 2010, Rob Nikolewski has covered New Mexico politics and investigated fraud, waste and abuse in government. He also writes an opinion column in the Sunday editions of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Rob joined New Mexico Watchdog after 20 years in television as a sports anchor and reporter. He anchored at MSNBC, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Reno and Boise, winning three regional Emmy awards along the way. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio.

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