John Hickenlooper
Lobbyist Ronald Smith helped raise funds for John Hickenlooper's gubenatorial campaign. Image: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr/CC BY-SA

A Denver-based lobbyist was convicted Wednesday of placing raw chicken in his ex-wife’s heating ducts and other costly acts of vandalism. He could face up to 18 years behind bars for the mischief.

A break-in

Police responded to a call about a break-in at the home of Michelle Smith — the ex-wife of 58-year-old Colorado lobbyist Ronald Smith — on September 29, 2010. They found cleat marks from bicycle shoes on the hardwood floors, and a computer hard-drive had been erased. Also, an “unknown substance” — possibly bleach — had been poured into a baby grand piano. The vandalism, according to Denver’s KDVR-TV, caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Raw chicken in vents

A few days later, a contractor who was hired to remove the cleat marks from the hardwood floors discovered that raw chicken had been placed in the heating vents.

Harassing texts and emails

Michelle, who was in Seattle on vacation with her boyfriend at the time, later told authorities that she suspected her former husband. While she had been on the trip, he sent her several harassing text messages. One of them read, “Hold those legs up high & long,” and another called her a “whore.”

According to an arrest affidavit, the acts of vandalism occurred on the same night Ronald Smith was hosting a gubernatorial campaign fundraiser for John Hickenklooper, who was serving as the city’s mayor at the time. Smith arrived late to the event and he left early.

Not the first accusation

Smith, according to the Denver Post, has been accused in the past of harassing his ex-wife. On more than one occasion he has been spotted peering into her bedroom window at night. And he once posted a laminated sign on her back door alerting mail carriers to return her mail on account of her “death.”

Jury finds Smith guilty

A Denver jury deliberated for six hours Wednesday before returning a guilty verdict for second-degree burglary and criminal mischief. Smith is scheduled for sentencing on November 18.


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