Criminal charges against Macomb Prosecutor Smith imminent, AG's office says

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

The Michigan Attorney General's Office expects to file criminal charges within the next few days against Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

“We anticipate charges within the next day or two," said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The announcement comes 10 months after Michigan State Police investigators raided Smith's home as part of an investigation into his use of forfeiture funds.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith

In a statement Monday, Smith said: “I have fully cooperated with the State Police Investigation from the day it began. I will continue to do so. Furthermore, I stand by my previous statements that these forfeiture funds were spent appropriately in accordance with the law.

“During these extremely trying times of the COVID-19 crisis the focus of our office continues to be the health and safety of our staff, partners in law enforcement and victims," Smith added. "We are continuing to ensure that the wheels of justice do not stop and those that commit crimes are held accountable.” 

The raid came a month after state police executed a search warrant at Smith's office. At the time of the office raid, state police said troopers executed the warrant as part of the investigation into the prosecutor's use of forfeiture funds.

A Detroit News review last year of hundreds of checks that have passed through the forfeiture account in the past two years indicate that many sizable checks were made out to various Macomb County police agencies that are supposed to share in forfeiture funds stemming from arrests in their jurisdictions.

In April 2019, Nessel asked the state police to investigate Smith's handling of asset forfeiture funds.

Questions over spending from the funds, which total hundreds of thousands of dollars, were raised early last year after Jared Maynard, the former chairman of the Macomb County Republican Party, sued to obtain bank records for accounts set up by Smith.

The funds in the accounts come from forfeitures and bad checks.

The investigation was sparked by questions raised by County Executive Mark Hackel about whether thousands of dollars were misspent on inappropriate expenditures, including donations to churches and charities, trips, parties and monthly bills from a security company ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.

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