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Ex-Hancock County corrections officer avoids jail time for drunk driving

Tom Smith received a one-year suspended sentence and a 90-day driver’s license suspension
A former Hancock County Community Corrections officer will serve no jail time for drunk driving.
Posted at 10:07 AM, Sep 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-07 18:35:25-04

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind.—A former Hancock County Community Corrections officer will serve no jail time for drunk driving.

On August 16, a Henry County judge sentenced Tom Smith to a one-year suspended sentence and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

Knightstown Police arrested Smith the night of May 25 after police saw Smith’s county-leased SUV without any headlights or tail lights.

At the time, Smith was a Community Corrections officer in Hancock County, but he was terminated following the arrest, according to an attorney representing Hancock County Commissioners.

According to court records, Smith’s speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and he told officers “We’ve been at the Legion playing darts.”

A portable breath test showed a .175 BAC, which is above the legal limit of .08.

He was charged with OWI Endangering a Person, Public Intoxication and No Headlights.

However, as part of a plea agreement the Public Intoxication and No Headlights charges were dismissed.

Smith will have to serve probation, which will be determined at an October 10 hearing.

Smith’s attorney declined to comment.

Smith was an employee of Hancock County Community Corrections at the time of his arrest, but was terminated on May 26.,

His supervisor at the time, then-Executive Director Wade Kennedy arrived at the scene as Smith was completing his field sobriety tests and took possession of the county-leased SUV Smith was driving, court records show.

Kennedy resigned following Smith’s arrest, on May 30.

“A search committee has been formed to replace Mr. Kennedy,” said Scott Benkie, an attorney representing the Hancock County Commissioners, in an email to WRTV.

The county’s website does not yet list a new executive director of community corrections.

Tom Smith and Wade Kennedy both initially kept their jobs after Smith and two other corrections officers were caught on tape, talking about a Cumberland man under their supervision, in a profanity-laced voicemail.

Ja’Michael Bryant, a Cumberland man who received the voicemail from Hancock County Community Corrections while serving a home detention sentence for dealing marijuana, has filed a federal lawsuit against Hancock County Commissioners.

Three Community Corrections employees at the time— Daniel Devoy, Thomas Smith, and Nicole Raffaelli—can be heard talking about Ja’Michael Bryant and his home.



Little thuggy.
Little motherf**ker.
Little thuggy
Yeah, so he pissed me off. So, I want to go get in his ass.
Is he, he…Wonder why he's not at work. I said I don't know. Where does he work at even?
He works for his mother. And…
Oh, he's a janitor or something isn't he.
Actually, he picks up stuff for a house that has a bunch of people…Because his mother runs a daycare for adults that are unable to take care of themselves. So, she hires him. He goes picks up…
He's her b**ch.
He'll go to Taco Bell. Pick up all the Taco Bell. Because every day they want to get something different to eat.
He probably lays in bed until mom calls him and says hey…
Yep. Time to go to work.
I need you to go to Walgreens and pick up diapers for this guy that’s here.
He doesn't go to work (Inaudible) leave around…I want to say 10 o'clock.
He's got it made then.
Yeah, f**k this guy.
F**k this guy.
That f**king pisses me off.
F**k this guy.
You want to run over there and see this b**ch real quick?
Um hm.
It's not that far.

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Bryant’s attorney Terrance Kinnard says the U.S. Department of Justice should investigate whether the employees mistreated other defendants in Hancock County.

"The most significant issue is the question of - how deep does the well go?” said Kinnard. “How many individuals were adversely affected simply because of their race or gender at the hands of individuals like this. And how much of this attitude has the organization adopted and for how long?"

In November 2022, Bryant was convicted of dealing marijuana and sentenced to a year and a half on Hancock County Community Corrections Home Detention.

Community Corrections is an alternative to prison and jail where offenders can serve out their sentence on work release or home detention.

The lawsuit alleges Community Corrections wrongly accused Bryant of tampering with his ankle monitor and says Devoy prevented Bryant from working for several days, which resulted in Bryant getting behind on his corrections fees.

“Community Corrections filed a violation against Mr. Bryant after he was unable to keep up with the payments due to the income loss caused by Mr. Devoy,” read the lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit alleges Bryant experienced a “relentless campaign of harassment” even before the voicemail.

The lawsuit also accuses Hancock County of violating Bryant’s civil rights and allowing a “deep-rooted culture of racism.”

“We filed the lawsuit because there was an egregious wrong that was done here,” said Kinnard. “Not only are they supervising him, they have control over his life and they actually made other decisions that weren't recorded that we can look back on and interpret what their intent was."

The three employees heard on the voicemail, Devoy, Smith and Raffaelli, received a written reprimand for the incident.

Raffaelli still works for Hancock County Community Corrections.

As for Devoy, he retired from Community Corrections on May 1 and is now working for the jail part-time.

“They kept their jobs,” said Kinnard. “They kept their pay. They were left in charge of other individuals."

The Hancock County Commissioners investigated but took no action.

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Kinnard said the Hancock County Commissioners need to do a broader investigation into the officers’ conduct.

WRTV contacted the United States Department of Justice, and we are still waiting for a response.

We also contacted the FBI, and a spokesperson told us, “Per policy, the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of federal investigations."

As for the federal lawsuit, an attorney for the Hancock County Commissioners said they do not comment on pending litigation.

“However, I can say that the County Commissioners are not through reviewing this matter given the allegations of the lawsuit, and some of the reported information,” said attorney Scott Benkie in an email to WRTV.

As for Bryant, he is accused of violating his probation in a Hancock County criminal case.

He’s charged with dealing and possession of marijuana, and a probation violation hearing is scheduled for September 29.