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More critical testimony heard against former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith

Posted at 4:24 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 18:15:46-04

(WXTZ) — Back in court after several weeks, more incriminating testimony was heard against former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and Assistant Prosecutor Derek Miller.

Smith faces ten felonies including Embezzlement and Running a Criminal Enterprise, up to 20 years in prison. The case centers on keeping 4 off-book accounts of drug and drunk driving forfeiture cash and spending $600,000 for Smith’s personal use.

Smith resigned last year after being charged. He also pleaded guilty to a related case of Obstruction of Justice in Federal Court. That case is on hold.

The case today started out with what did other county officials know and when.

Former County Commissioner Robert Leonetti testified he was told by Derek Miller there was one account, not four that should be looked at by county auditors. Then it all hit the news and it was turned over to the state. Only then did Smith come forward to them.

“I believe it was before the Michigan State Police began investigating,” Leonetti testified. “After an audit was announced or even before we were going to do our audit. It was kind of when it was breaking in the news that the Treasurer and the Prosecutor had a turf war where these funds should be.”

Michigan State Police investigated, raided the Prosecutor’s office to get records, and removed surveillance cameras from the Prosecutor’s house paid for by forfeiture funds.

Thousands of dollars also went to the Prosecutor’s kids’ elementary school. Where to use all the free money?

School Principal Jason Ellis testified, “After speaking with 6th-grade teachers, they felt that iPad minis were a good tool that our kids would be able to use.”

The star witness of the day is the Prosecutor’s Office Manager, Jennifer Meech, who went through several more cases of how the money was spent for office parties, gifts, flowers, and how they discussed the accounts would not be turned over to the County Treasurer.

At times, Meech used her own credit card to buy things and they used a loose accounting system.

She testified, “When I submit a check request, I would put my receipts together and I would attach a sticky note with a summary.”

And she testified who had the ultimate say how the money was spent, “Eric Smith.”

Meech also testified how she was in meetings when they discussed changing bank ID numbers. That’s important with Derek Miller charged with Misconduct and Conspiracy to change those numbers, facing up to 5 years in prison. He wants his case tossed out for lack of evidence.

The judge will decide that when all the evidence is in. These hearings are set to continue on November 19, December 3 and 9, and 10.