Former Hart County Probate Judge Indicted on Sexual Battery Charges

Former Hart County Probate Judge Bobby Joe Smith, has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney General’s office for soliciting sexual contact in exchange for favorable action on driving under the influence charges and other traffic offenses.

The announcement came in press release from Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Charles E. Peeler of the Middle District of Georgia, and Special Agent in Charge David J. Levalley of the FBI’s Atlanta Division.

77-year old Smith, of Hartwell, was charged with one count of Federal Program Bribery, and three counts of Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law (sexual assault by one acting under color of law in violation of Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 242).

The four indictments were filed Thursday, April 12 in the Middle District of Georgia.

According to the allegations in the indictment, between May 2013 and May 2014, Smith met separately with three different women in his office regarding various traffic offense citations the three had received.

During these meetings, each of the women sought Smith’s assistance in reducing or eliminating her charges and potential fines and punishments.

In the first case, the indicment alleges that Smith met in his chambers on multiple occasions with a woman facing two DUI charges and a charge of driving on a suspended license.

During those meetings, Smith allegedly told the woman she would be on quote, “private probation with him,” and she needed to make monthly cash payments to him personally.

During those vistits, Smith allegedly kissed the woman on the lips and groped her multiple times without her consent.  Smith subsequently reduced her charges and punishments for all of her pending offenses.

In the second case, the woman was charged with failure to maintain lane and driving under the influence. She also sought Smith’s help to reduce her charges.

During meetings with the second woman, Smith allegedly told her he would reduce her charges and fines and not sentence her to any jail time or suspend her license.

He then instructed her to return to his office on multiple occasions to check on the results of her blood-alcohol tests. During those visits, Smith allegedly locked his office door, kissed the woman on her on the lips, groped her, and exposed himself without her consent, and blocked his office door so she couldn’t leave.

The woman’s charges were ultimately resolved by another judge after Smith left office.

To help the third woman with a speeding ticket she received in another county, Smith allegedly left a message for a probate judge in that county, providing details about the woman’s citation and falsely claiming that the woman was his granddaughter.

After placing the phone call, Smith allegedly kissed the woman on the lips and attempted to grope her. When the woman told him “no” and tried to pull away, Smith allegedly tightened his arm around her.

Her ticket was ultimately resolved by a judge in the county where it was received.

According to the indictment, none of these three women consented to Smith’s sexual advances.

Additionally, the indictment states Smith’s alleged actions, Hart County received more than $10,000 in benefits under a federal program involving grant, contract, subsidy, loan, guarantee, insurance or other forms of federal assistance.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Athens Resident Agency. Trial Attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Deputy Criminal Chief Danial Bennett of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.

Smith resigned his office in May, 2014 citing health reasons.

His first court appearance is scheduled for April 25th.

Full indictment may be viewed here: