Current Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has been charged with 10 separate criminal corruption offenses relating to the alleged misuse of money forfeited to Macomb County. This money comes from the forfeiture of funds and property of criminal defendants, most typically people accused of drug trafficking. He is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, five separate counts of embezzlement by a public official, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit forgery, accessory to a crime after the fact, and public office misconduct. There are three other defendants in this case for their alleged acts that contributed to these crimes.
Original Case Details
The main thing at issue here is what Smith did with forfeiture funds that are seized by the police. Forfeiture funds are supposed to be spent on county police departments and the county’s sheriff department. Michigan State Police raided Smith’s office and home in an effort to uncover his alleged misuse of these funds. Investigators estimate that Smith embezzled approximately $600,000 since 2012 relating to the forfeiture funds. This money was allegedly spent on things such as television service to AT&T and DIRECTV to the tune of almost $30,000, retirement and Christmas parties, and nearly $100,000 in credit card charges that were reimbursed for various activities and expenses. Smith’s secretary appears on over 100 checks, where allegedly she would use her own credit card for purchases and Smith would reimburse her with checks that are paid out from forfeiture money. These forfeiture funds are controversial in nature, because they don’t require a conviction for the police to keep the money and property seized. Opponents of forfeiture funds see these accounts as slush funds for police to use how they please. Forfeiture funds are only supposed to be used in a way that enhances public safety and security, not for personal enrichment.
Criminal Charges Involved
The most serious charge that smith faces is a count of conducting a criminal enterprise, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison. Conspiracy to commit forgery carries a 14-year maximum sentence, while Smith’s five embezzlement charges each carry a 10-year maximum. By law, forfeiture accounts are only to be controlled by the Macomb County Treasurer. Investigators allege that Smith had four forfeiture accounts that he personally controlled without any oversight by any county official. The accounts that Smith allegedly controlled were Drug Forfeiture, Bad Check Restitution, Drunk Driving Forfeiture, and the Warren Drug Court Forfeiture accounts.
The money from these accounts is supposed to be used for things like restitution to people when they are victimized by check forgeries, or prosecutor’s office training or equipment in order to promote public safety. It is alleged that Smith and his co-defendants used the money for things like make up and flowers for certain secretaries, campaign expenditures, a security system for Smith’s personal home among other things. Smith and his co-defendants are now in a position where they would have to justify that these expenditures were for the public good and not for personal reasons. Investigators are armed with a four-year spreadsheet of expenditures that they believe point to a systematic approach to Smith’s illegal use of these funds. Smith has been arraigned on the ten charges and a $100,000 personal bond has been set. His passport has been seized by the court and he is not allowed to leave the state of Michigan during the pendency of his case. He was arraigned at 41B District Court in Mount Clemens.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to public corruption, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.