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Macomb County judges may name prosecutor this week

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Eight applicants — including four current assistant prosecutors — will be considered Wednesday by the Macomb County Circuit Court bench to fill out the unexpired term of former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

Smith resigned March 30 in the wake of criminal charges that he misused $600,000 in forfeiture funds seized in drug and drunken driving cases between 2012 and 2018. Also facing charges are Smith’s former assistant prosecutor Derek Miller, who is now on administrative leave; Benjamin Liston, once Smith’s chief of staff; and a Mt. Clemens businessman, William Weber.

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

Smith’s chief trial attorney, Jean Cloud, temporarily assumed his former duties and has applied to finish his term. Other assistant prosecutors who filed applications are Dean Alan, Jurij Fedorak and Steven Fox.

Rounding out the field of applicants are Brian Jaye; 41B District Court Magistrate David Portuesi; Saima Khalil, a director with the Macomb County Bar Association, and Tom Rombach, a former president of the Michigan Bar Association and ex-county commissioner.

Seven candidates, including Khalil and Rombach, have filed to run for a four-year prosecutor’s term in the August primary. Also running are these Democrats who did apply for the temporary appointment: include retired Macomb Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski, former Waterford District Judge Jodi Switalski and attorney Eva Tkacyk.

State Sen. Peter Lucido and Richard John Goodman, an ex-Macomb County assistant prosecutor, will face off in the Republican primary in August.

James Langtry, a part-time assistant prosecutor who worked for Smith as a chief assistant and former chief of operations, was terminated in April by Cloud, who previously put Miller on a paid administrative leave. Langtry is not facing any criminal charges.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Tuesday for Smith and the other three defendants, who remain free on personal bond.

Under state law, forfeiture funds — seized from people in drug and drunken driving cases — are supposedly designated for law enforcement training and equipment. The allegations are that Smith and others conspired to instead use the funds for holiday parties, equipment, gifts, even high-tech home surveillance cameras for Smith’s Macomb Township home.

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.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319