Powder mailing prompts scrutiny

A Grand Haven man faces trial on a federal charge of making a false statement to the FBI.
Becky Vargo
May 21, 2013

Bruce Edward Smith II, 41, pleaded not guilty to the charge on Friday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. He is free after posting a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Smith, who allegedly sent an e-mail to the FBI in attempt to discredit an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department deputy, faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted of the charge.

In the e-mail, Smith accused the deputy of selling drugs he had confiscated during arrests, said U.S. District Attorney Tim VerHey.

Smith is also alleged to have sent a letter to the deputy at the Sheriff’s Department that contained a white powder. Police initially thought the letter might be terrorism-related, VerHey said, but it was determined that the powder was not poisonous.

“We’re still waiting to hear what the powder is,” VerHey said. “The lab test is not back. ... But that got our attention."

The letter was written so that it appeared it was from someone who was working with the deputy to sell drugs, VerHey said. An investigation revealed that the letter came from Smith, the district attorney said.

"Apparently, (Smith) was mad at the deputy because the deputy charged him with domestic assault," VerHey said.

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