Ex-aide testifies ex-Macomb County prosecutor directed use of forfeiture funds
Another former assistant of ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith was questioned Thursday at his embezzlement preliminary examination about forfeiture funds allegedly spent by Smith for non-law enforcement purposes.
Smith, 54, is facing state charges that he looted more than $600,000 from secret accounts containing funds from drunk driving and drug cases. Under law, those funds are intended for law enforcement related purposes only.
Former associates have testified — under immunity and plea agreements — that Smith designated funds to be used for various reasons including purchasing flowers and makeup for secretaries, gifts for workers, donations to schools and a private security system for Smith’s own home.
“I did what anyone wanted me to do,” said Lorie Addelia, Smith’s former personal secretary who paid reimbursements to former officer manager Jennifer Meech and others for expenses authorized by Smith.
Addelia has been immunized from prosecution in exchange for her cooperation and testimony. Several hours Thursday were spent by assistant state attorney general Michael Frezza quizzing her about numerous checks that bypassed the normal channels of Smith’s budget as authorized by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
In October, Meech testified she made charges on her personal credit card as requested by Smith and submitted receipts to Addelia for reimbursement.
A county audit and internal investigation in 2018 revealed questionable transactions by Smith’s office. Smith was charged in March 2020 with embezzlement, forgery and misconduct in office. He resigned as prosecutor when Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a 10-county warrant alleging conspiracy, tampering with evidence and criminal enterprise in the case.
Smith later pleaded guilty in federal court to obstruction of justice charges, including improper use of $70,000 from his re-election fund and asking a friend and two former associates to lie to a grand jury.
Smith, who is free on bond, has not been sentenced but is expected to face between 15 to 21 months in prison on the federal charges.
If convicted of the state charges, Smith could received up to 20 years in prison.
The preliminary examination is to continue Friday in Clinton Township District Court before visiting judge Cynthia Arvant.