Facing felonies, Macomb County prosecutor resigns

    Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith

    Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, who was charged last week with 10 felonies by Attorney General Dana Nessel for alleged embezzlement and misconduct in office, announced his resignation Monday.

    It is with heavy heart that today I am announcing my immediate resignation from the Office of the Macomb County Prosecutor,” Smith wrote in a statement. “After much reflection, I know that for the betterment of my family, my health, and the citizens of Macomb County it is time for me to step aside so that the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office can continue its great tradition of serving and protecting the county.”

    Despite leaving the position following the findings of Nessel’s investigation, Smith said he will continue to defend himself against the allegations. 

    “I have been part of the criminal justice system for close to 30 years,” wrote Smith, a Democrat. “Know that I have absolute confidence that our cherished justice system will bring forth the truth and exonerate me.”

    Nessel charges Democratic Macomb Co. Prosecutor Eric Smith with embezzlement

    Smith faces 10 charges, including official misconduct in office, tampering with evidence in a civil proceeding, accessory after the fact to embezzlement by a public official, conducting a criminal enterprise, five counts of embezzlement by a public official and using a computer to commit or conspire to commit a crime. 

    The most serious offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

    Between 2012 and 2018, the attorney general alleges that Smith illegally spent $600,000 from an obscure forfeiture fund.  

    When reached by The Advance on Wednesday, the attorney general’s office did not have a comment about the resignation.

    Chief Trial Attorney Jean Cloud will take over Smith’s duties as prosecutor until the Macomb County Circuit Court bench appoints a permanent interim prosecutor, who then will serve until the November’s general election.

    State Sen. Peter Lucido, who recently lost his position chairing the Senate Advice and Consent Committee following the results of a state Senate sexual harassment investigation, announced his campaign for Macomb County prosecutor last week. 

    A Senate probe found Lucido sexually harassed women. Now he’s running for Macomb County prosecutor.

    Former Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski said she will also run. County Commissioner Robert Leonetti and former judge and former assistant Macomb prosecutor Jodi Debbrecht-Switalski both said they are considering running for the position. 

    Three other Macomb County leaders face criminal charges involved with Smith’s investigation. Former County Treasurer and state Rep. Derek Miller (D-Warren) also faces criminal charges, including official misconduct in office and conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner. Miller has not been formally charged yet.  

    The other two men charged are retired Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor and former Chief of Operations Benjamin Liston and William Weber, the owner of Weber Security Group.

    Liston, who was arraigned Friday, faces four charges, including official misconduct in office, conducting a criminal enterprise and two counts of embezzlement by a public official.

    Weber faces four charges, including forgery, larceny by conversion, aiding and abetting Smith’s embezzlement by a public official and receiving and concealing stolen property. He was arraigned Tuesday and released on a $100,000 personal bond for a May 19 probable cause conference.

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.