Judge freezes almost $6,900 monthly pension of ex-Macomb Co. Prosecutor Eric Smith

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

A visiting Oakland County Circuit Court judge has ordered the nearly $6,900 a month pension payment of disgraced former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith frozen at the behest of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office.

Judge Nanci Grant made the decision last Friday to freeze Smith's benefits from the Macomb County Employees Retirement System and stated that it "shall not be paid until further order of this court." She got the case after Macomb County Circuit judges disqualified themselves. 

Nessel's office said it was bound by state statute to freeze the benefits when a public employee is convicted or pleads guilty to "certain felonies" including misuse of public monies. 

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith leaves the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, in Detroit, February 16, 2022 after he was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for obstruction of justice in a lengthy fraud scheme.

The former prosecutor is serving a 21-month federal prison sentence after he pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in a fraud scheme. Smith admitted in court that he stole weekly amounts of cash that totaled nearly $70,000 in a kickback scheme.

Smith also is awaiting trial in county court on 10 state charges involving the alleged misuse of drug and forfeiture funds in the prosecutor's office. They include five counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy to commit forgery, accessory to a felony after the fact, evidence tampering, conducting a criminal enterprise and misconduct in office.

The criminal enterprise count carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Smith resigned from office in March 2020 after facing criminal charges. According to the Attorney General office's filing, Smith was being paid $6,897.10 a month and had already pulled out $116,134.14 in an annuity cash payout from the retirement system in February 2020.

Smith made the withdrawal, according to the Attorney General's office, "after (Michigan State Police's) criminal investigation became known, which was at latest by April 8, 2019."

"The benefit Smith is now collecting was funded by the taxpayers," according to the court petition. He started to receive the monthly pension check of nearly $6,900 effective April 3, 2020, according to Attorney General's office.

An attorney for Smith could not be reached for comment.

Smith first took office in January 2005 after having serving years as an assistant prosecutor.

Grant also froze the pension of Smith's former chief of operations Derek Miller, who resigned in February after being bound over for trial on two criminal charges similar related to misuse of public money. He has not taken a pension but "may also take money from the retirement system," according to the Attorney General office's petition.

Miller is accused of misconduct in office for allegedly hiding bank accounts with public monies and conspiring with Smith and others to change the Employer Identification Number of certain bank accounts to new EIN in a bid to thwart oversight of public monies. 

lfleming@detroitnews.com

Twitter:@leonardnfleming