Judge freezes pension of former suburban Detroit prosecutor

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 18:02:31-04

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A judge froze the pension of a former Detroit-area prosecutor recently sentenced to prison for obstructing justice during an investigation of how he spent campaign donations.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Nanci Grant issued an order last week freezing the nearly $6,900-a-month pension former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith has received since 2020, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office requested that the pensions of Smith and his former chief of operations, Derek Miller, be frozen in a pending embezzlement case that involves the misuse of drug and forfeiture funds in the prosecutor’s office.

Smith faces 10 counts and Miller faces two charges in the embezzlement case, which Grant is handling after Macomb County circuit judges disqualified themselves.

Grant’s order, issued March 11, freezes until further order any retirement benefit associated with or payable by the Macomb County Employees Retirement System, or MCERS, for Smith and Miller.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office said Smith had been collecting a pension or benefit from MCERS, including for the time after 2012, when it alleges the embezzlement began.

“The benefit Smith is now collecting was funded by the taxpayers,” according to court records that also show he began drawing a monthly pension check of $6,897 effective April 3, 2020.

John Dakmak, one of Smith’s attorneys, said freezing Smith’s pension “is of great concern” for Smith’s wife and three children.

“He paid into that program. He had filed for retirement as allowed,” Dakmak said of Smith.

Smith, a Democrat, was Macomb County’s elected prosecutor until quitting in 2020 after 15 years, tarnished by state and federal investigations.

A federal judge sentenced Smith in February to 21 months in prison after he pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice charges. He was accused of stealing just under $75,000 from his campaign fund from 2012 to 2019.