MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and his former Chief Assistant Prosecutor Derek Miller are back in court to hear the evidence against them in a corruption case that started two years ago and uncovered 4 off-book checking accounts holding hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Smith is facing ten counts including Embezzlement, Running a Criminal Enterprise, Tampering with Evidence, and Conspiracy, up to 20 years if convicted.
Miller is charged with Conspiracy and Misconduct in Office, up to 5 years in prison.
Today was the first in-court hearing after COVID delays. Smith wore a mask in court with TV cameras rolling. He had COVID last year that delayed his parallel federal case in which he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Obstruction of Justice.
Smith is facing a recommendation of 15 to 21 months in that case.
His state case is being heard in front of Judge Cynthia Arvant from Southfield.
Testimony today included Macomb County Corporation Counsel Frank Krycia who testified Smith kept control of drug and alcohol forfeiture funds in off-book bank accounts in violation of state law and county policy.
“It must go through the process. It must go through the department. It must go through the Treasurer. It must be accounted for. It must be placed in the proper account,” Krycia testified.
Only 7 Action News cameras were rolling in May of 2019 when State Police showed up at Smith’s home, climbed ladders, and removed state-of-the-art security cameras that were purchased with the funds.
When asked by Assistant Attorney General Michael Frezza about the cameras and the money, Krycia testified, “not proper.”
Krycia said he sent a subpoena to the security company to get records only to learn that was being blocked by Smith testifying,
“It was something I haven’t seen before. It was a request that I destroy the evidence and not show it to a third party such as the State Police which is what we did,” he testified.
The owner of the security company that installed them, William Webber was also charged with fraud and forgery but took a plea deal to testify against Smith later.
The Michigan Attorney General alleged Smith misused $600,000 in forfeiture funds over several years as his own personal slush fund.
Smith resigned from office after being charged.
The case was first discovered by auditors who spot-checked and found a check signed by Smith paid to the Sheriff who deposited it in his account to the County Treasurer. When officials dug deeper they found more.
Deputy County Treasurer Joe Biondo testified, “It wasn’t 1 account it was 4 accounts. And it wasn’t the $28,000 that had been the number being thrown around before. It was actually I believe it was a little over $240,000 at that point.”
This hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence for Smith and Miller to stand trial. It is set to continue on Tuesday.