FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The leader of the Genesee County Republican Party who made a harassing phone call to a Democratic official in the Upper Peninsula was placed on probation Tuesday and ordered to write an essay about the effects of bullying.

Matthew Smith, 24, was accused of calling Jennifer Kelly, the elected clerk in Houghton County, and threatening to poison her dogs during a 1 a.m. phone call in March 2020. A friend was running against her.

READ MORE: Ribs RnB Music Festival Kicks Off This Weekend In Downtown Detroit

Smith vigorously denied any threats against dogs but pleaded guilty in November to malicious use of a phone.

“I apologize for calling Miss Kelly and making a political phone call late at night,” Smith told MLive.com outside court. “You should never make a phone to someone late at night and spook them or startle them.”

Besides leading the Genesee County GOP, Smith is a school board member in Davison. The controversy has led to a recall effort against him.

Smith must perform 240 hours of community service and pay $650. His record eventually will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble.

READ MORE: Judge Says Michigan Gov. Whitmer Won't Have To Testify In Abortion Lawsuit

Judge William Crawford said Smith had “credibility issues” because he initially denied making a call to Smith.

“It’s time to grow up and be a man,” the judge said.

Kelly, a Democrat, said Smith succeeded in scaring her.

“I have been afraid to go outside. I have avoided functions. I have feared losing my animals,” she told the judge via Zoom.

MORE NEWS: MDHHS Lifts No-Contact Recommendation In Huron River Chemical Spill

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.