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Republican State Sen. Peter Lucido has announced plans to run for Macomb County prosecutor, a day after current Prosecutor Eric Smith was charged with embezzling money from the county's forfeiture funds. 

Lucido said he plans to file as soon as the clerk's office reopens for regular business after bans related to the coronavirus pandemic are lifted. The deadline to file is April 20.

The 59-year-old Shelby Township resident practiced criminal defense in Macomb County for nearly three decades before his election to the state House of Representatives in 2015. 

Smith said in a statement he has "deep respect for the democratic process and what it entails."

"I have every intention of running a spirited re-election campaign and hope to earn the support of the voters in Macomb County once again," the Democratic incumbent said. "Pete and I have had professional and personal relationships for many years now. I welcome his filing for the office of Prosecuting Attorney."

In 2018, Lucido was elected to the Michigan Senate, where he chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. 

He was removed as chairman of the Senate's Advice and Consent Committee earlier this month after a Senate Business Office investigation into allegations of sexual harassment found evidence he exhibited "inappropriate workplace behavior."

The investigation followed allegations from a reporter that Lucido made inappropriate comments to her. At least two other women came forward shortly after to allege similar harassment.

Lucido maintained Wednesday he had not sexually harassed anyone and noted that the Senate investigation found the allegations could not be "unequivocally substantiated." He said he would "let the voters decide as my jurors."

Lucido said his time as a criminal defense attorney and his experience in the Legislature have given him a "new perspective" needed in the prosecutor's office. 

"I can bring those skills sets as well as my 30 years as an attorney back to the county and be job ready," said Lucido, whose Senate term runs through 2022. 

Among the legislation Lucido touted were the Raise the Age package concerning juvenile offenders, stricter penalties for child abuse and civil asset forfeiture reform — bills he highlighted considering the charges against Smith. 

Smith and three others on Tuesday were charged by Attorney General Dana Nessel with financial and corruption charges related to the misuse of county forfeiture funds. In total, they are alleged to have embezzled roughly $600,000 from county forfeiture funds, Nessel said. 

Lucido said the announcement of the charges marked a "tragic, sad day" for the county, but stopped short of calling for Smith to step down. 

"We’re trying to instill a justice system that’s fair and equal for everyone," Lucido said. "I understand that this looks really bad … but we haven’t heard yet from the accused.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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