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Eric Smith, Former Macomb County Prosecutor, Pleads Guilty to Three Felonies

LANSING - Today, former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, 56, pled guilty to three felonies before Judge Nanci Grant, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Judge Grant, an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge, is acting as a Macomb County Circuit Judge by assignment of the State Court Administrative Office. Under Smith’s plea a $25,000 restitution order will be entered by the Court at sentencing, payment will go to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office’s Drug and Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Forfeiture accounts. At sentencing it is expected the Court will also order forfeiture of a significant portion of Smith’s pension under the Public Employee Retirement Benefits Forfeiture Act. The Court has previously ordered Smith’s pension be frozen at the Attorney General’s request.

At today’s hearing, Smith admitted to misusing public funds, thereby acting with corrupt intent in the exercise of his office as the elected Prosecutor. Smith began working in the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office in 1993, was first elected Prosecutor in 2004, and resigned as Prosecutor in March 2020 following criminal charges filed by the Attorney General.  

Smith pled guilty to the following charges: 

  • One count of Official Misconduct in Office, a five-year felony;  
  • One count of Tampering with Evidence in a Civil Proceeding, a four-year felony; and
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Forgery, a 14-year felony.   

“No one is above the law, regardless of what office they serve. The former Prosecutor severely abused his position of power and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the people of Macomb County. Those charged with upholding the law should be held to the highest ethical standards,” said Nessel. “Eric Smith violated the public trust and tainted the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. I appreciate the hard work of the Michigan State Police and my Public Integrity Unit for ensuring that Mr. Smith was removed from his position and held accountable for his egregious crimes.”

This case followed a year-long investigation by the Michigan State Police and other agencies, and a three-year prosecution by the Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. In the complaint, Hackel called for an investigation into inappropriate use of forfeiture accounts.  

Investigators found that Smith and other defendants used the money for parties, to buy flowers and make-up for select secretaries, a security system for Smith's residence, garden benches for staffers' homes, campaign expenditures and more.  Smith embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars for these purposes. 

Under statute, forfeiture accounts are to be controlled by the County Treasurer. However, investigators found Smith had four accounts containing public monies he controlled without official county oversight. Those accounts were: Drug Forfeiture, Bad Check Restitution, OWI Forfeiture, and Warren Drug Court. 

Smith’s convictions today follow those of three other co-defendants in the matter. Derrick Miller, 39, pled guilty in 2022 to a Public Official Refusing or Neglecting to Account for County Money, a misdemeanor, as part of the scheme with Smith to hide the accounts and the related spending from County Officials. Ben Liston, 61, the former Macomb County chief assistant prosecutor, pled guilty in 2020 to three misdemeanor charges of Willful Neglect of Duty by a Public Officer holding a public trust. Liston, under his plea agreement, relinquished his law license, was ordered to pay $16,000 in restitution for his crimes, and will serve two months in jail.  William Weber, 42, a private contractor, falsified an invoice to misrepresent a security system installation as having been for a county property when it had in fact been installed at the Smith residence. This equipment included an upgraded home Wi-Fi system and a sump-pump monitoring system, both paid for by the Drug Forfeiture Account. He pled guilty in 2021 to a misdemeanor charge of Conspiracy to Commit a Legal Act in an Illegal Manner.  Weber was ordered to pay $23,960 in restitution to the County. Under their plea agreements, all three co-defendants agreed to testify against Smith.

Smith will be sentenced before Judge Grant on September 6th. 

Smith faced related charges in Federal court. He pled guilty in 2021 to Attempting to Obstruct Justice and is serving a 21-month sentence.


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