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2nd Macomb assistant prosecutor removed from duty

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

A second assistant Macomb County prosecutor has been moved out of office in the wake of the resignation of elected Prosecutor Eric Smith, who faces multiple criminal charges alleging misuse of $600,000 in forfeiture funds.

James Langtry, a part-time assistant prosecutor who worked for Smith as a chief assistant and former chief of operations, was terminated this week, according to Macomb County officials. Langtry is not charged with any offenses in the ongoing probe of alleged misspending of forfeiture funds.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith prepares to walk into the Michigan State Police Metro North Post in Oak Park to be fingerprinted.

Langtry is the second assistant prosecutor to be broomed from the office by acting Prosecutor Jean Cloud, who took over the office on an interim basis last month when Smith suddenly resigned March 30.

The first to go was Derek Miller, Smith’s chief of operations, who is named as a co-defendant in the alleged embezzlement conspiracy. Miller has been placed on a paid administrative leave by Cloud pending the outcome of the probe.

Cloud did not return telephone calls for comment Tuesday. 

Also facing charges are another former assistant prosecutor, Benjamin Liston, who had previously been Smith’s chief of staff, and William Weber, a Mt. Clemens businessman whose Weber Security Co. obtained lucrative contracts for sales and installation of electronic technology used in Smith’s office and home.

All are free on personal bond pending a probable cause hearing next month.

Smith and his co-defendants are accused of directing $600,000 of forfeiture funds over several years to holiday parties, equipment, gifts, even high-tech home surveillance cameras for Smith’s Macomb Township home.

Under state law, forfeiture funds — seized from people in drug and drunk driving cases — are to be designated for law enforcement training and equipment. Smith’s attorney has maintained his client has broken no laws and that when the matter goes to court ,the expenditures will be shown to be justified and legal.

The Macomb Circuit bench will be accepting applications to fill out the remainder of Smith’s elected term, which expires this year; the judges are scheduled to meet May 20 to possibly select a different interim prosecutor.

Four people, including one Republican and three Democrats have filed applications with the county elections office to appear on an August ballot for the prosecutor position. One Democrat and one Republican will face off against each other in November.

Smith resigned last month just a few days after he was formally charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel with 10 felonies -- including embezzlement and racketeering -- for his alleged illicit expenditure of $600,000 from the forfeiture fund between 2012 and 2018.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319