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Fant drops defamation suit against ex-friend

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POSTED March 16, 2017 1:21 a.m.

The defamation lawsuit filed by former Manteca Unified Trustee Sam Fant against former Weston Ranch resident Richard Smith has been dismissed.
On Wednesday, a San Joaquin Superior Court judge granted Fant’s request for a dismissal without prejudice that he filed for last week — ending a tense, several months long back-and-forth between the then-embattled council candidate and a former friend who Fant alleged made disparaging public comments about him at a community function.
Smith was also one of the witnesses who testified in Fant’s preliminary hearing on charges of conspiracy and election fraud, but has since moved to the Fresno area.
According to Fant, Smith extended an olive branch the last time the two of them appeared in court together. He thought that was enough to end the lawsuit and the put the matter behind him as he ponders life outside of public service and prepares for his upcoming trial stemming from the highly-public Manteca Unified case.
“He dismissed it without prejudice and just as long as he doesn’t make any disparaging statements about me again in public, we won’t have to go back and refile the suit,” Fant said. “He extended an olive branch and I agreed with him, but now that I’m just Joe Citizen the comments people can make about me as a public figure don’t really apply anymore.”
Fant denied behind more than 10 minutes late for a conference last week where he was supposed to speak to the judge about the future of the case, but ended up making the decision there to not seek damages, which would have been the next portion of the suit were it to continue.
While he’s no longer an elected official, Fant is currently serving out his term on the San Joaquin County Fair Board and is still active in youth organizations throughout Stockton.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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