Former Macomb County Prosecutor Plea Delayed Due to COVID-19 Diagnosis

Original Case Details

Our blog has covered the multiple corruption charges and cases relating to former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith since its inception, and as of this writing, the federal case against him is still pending an official plea. Smith was originally arrested and charged with 10 different state public corruption charges as discussed in a previous blog here. He was later charged federally with a single count of obstruction of justice. His federal obstruction of justice charge is related to the allegations that Smith set up an illegal kickback scheme to funnel $70,000 from his reelection campaign account. The federal and state charges are unrelated and operate independently of one another. Back in September, Smith agreed to plead guilty to the count of obstruction of justice. The actual in-court plea has not happened yet and is being delayed due to Smith being diagnosed with COVID-19. It has been reported that Smith was released from the hospital on November 9th and remains quarantined in his home. He is reportedly still suffering extreme symptoms related to the virus. As such, his attorneys submitted a motion to the court asking for the plea date to be moved due to Smith’s COVID-19 diagnosis and continued health concerns. 

Pending Plea

Smith’s original plea hearing date for his federal obstruction of justice charge was originally moved to October 28 and later moved to November 13 because Smith had direct contact with two individuals who later tested positive for COVID-19. Smith has reportedly been in quarantine either at home or in the hospital since the date of his initial exposure to the virus. His federal plea date has now been moved to December 17, where Smith is expected to formally plead guilty on the record to the offense charged. If that in fact happens, Smith would be sent to meet with a federal probation officer for a presentence interview before his formal sentencing date. Smith has still not resolved his state case and he is facing a preliminary exam conference for his state charges on January 8th, 2021. It still remains possible that Smith could resolve his state case with a plea of some sort, but as of now, he is continuing to defend his case that he did not misuse Macomb County drug forfeiture funds. Smith faces up to 20 years in state prison on these charges for allegedly embezzling over $600,000 from the County forfeiture funds. Smith is one of a litany of elected public officials in Macomb County who have been taken down on corruption charges in recent years.

What Happens Next?

Smith resigned his post this past March as Macomb County Prosecutor upon being criminally charged initially by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. He has remained free on bond while both of his cases have been pending. If and when Smith does plead guilty to federal obstruction of justice, he will be facing up to 21 months in federal prison for that offense. The decision on his sentencing would come later on a formal sentencing court date in front of the judge. Smith’s remaining state criminal charges could separately land him in Michigan prison for an undetermined period of time at the current juncture. It is possible that Smith could serve a federal prison sentence followed by a state prison sentence or vice versa. At this point, it would appear that Smith’s federal case will resolve before his state cases. This would likely result in federal prison time being served first if he is in fact sentenced to prison. In the time since Smith’s resignation, Jean Cloud was named interim prosecutor to finish Smith’s elected term. Cloud went into the job only with the intention to finish the term and declined to run in the elections to seek the full office term as Macomb County Prosecutor. In the recent elections, former Republican Michigan State Representative Peter Lucido received the most votes to become the next Macomb County Prosecutor. He will take office in January and serve a four-year term. He promises more transparency within the prosecutor’s office and pledges to create an anti-corruption and integrity task force that will investigate and pursue cases against officials who are alleged to be corrupt.

Any Further Questions?

If you are facing the possibility of criminal charges, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We are standing by to help you now.

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