Ex-Macomb County prosecutor in federal prison in Indiana

·3 min read

Eric Smith used to be know as "one tough prosecutor."

Now, he's federal register No. 86613-509.

The former longtime Macomb County prosecutor is at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Indiana, a 6½-hour drive away from his Macomb Township home, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith walks outside the United States District Court in Detroit on Feb. 16, 2022. Smith was sentenced for stealing money from his campaign fund.
Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith walks outside the United States District Court in Detroit on Feb. 16, 2022. Smith was sentenced for stealing money from his campaign fund.

It's a medium-security federal correctional institution with 1,198 inmates and an adjacent minimum-security satellite camp that has 189 inmates, according to the website. There also is a high-security federal penitentiary with 1,210 inmates at the federal correctional complex, which is southwest of Indianapolis.

Smith, 55, was to turn himself in to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Thursday. He pleaded guilty in federal court in January 2021 after being accused of stealing just under $75,000 from his campaign fund from 2012 to 2019. He was sentenced in mid-February to 21 months in federal prison.

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Last month, an application for writ of garnishment was filed in federal court, stating a judgment was entered in his case and $20,100 is owed from him. The county's human resources and labor relations, attention retirement services, is listed as a garnishee.

In March, a circuit judge froze a nearly $6,900-a-month pension Smith had been receiving since 2020 in a separate embezzlement case against him that involves the alleged misuse of drug and forfeiture funds in the prosecutor's office.

The order froze any retirement benefit associated with or payable by the Macomb County Employees Retirement System until further order of the court. Authorities said Smith participated in MCERS prior to his resignation, collecting a pension or benefit from the system, including for the time after 2012 when they allege the embezzlement began.

Court records indicated Smith began drawing a monthly pension check of $6,897 effective April 3, 2020.

Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith
Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith

Smith is facing 10 charges in the embezzlement probe in which he's accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug and forfeiture funds for personal and authorized business expenses during the course of many years.

There's been no plea in that case, attorneys for both sides said during a circuit court pretrial June 29, the day before Smith was to surrender to federal authorities. The judge handling the embezzlement case is to set pretrial and trial dates as well as deadlines for plea offers and plea acceptances.

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Smith resigned March 30, 2020, less than a week after he was charged in the embezzlement probe. He was disbarred effective June 15, according to a notice on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.

Smith's attorney told the circuit judge last week that they had been keeping Smith's federal prison whereabouts quiet because it could be a safety issue, even asking that it be subject to a protective order and the government not release it to the public at large.

The federal prison in which Smith was to be lodged was not disclosed during the hearing, but the judge said at some point it would be disclosed because she has to sign a writ in order to bring Smith back to try him.

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-Macomb County prosecutor is in this federal prison