Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith Sentenced to Prison for Obstruction of Justice
DETROIT - Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, 53, of Macomb Township, was sentenced today to 21 months in federal prison after having pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, announced United States Attorney Dawn Ison.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Joshua Hauxhurst, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.
Smith pleaded guilty on January 27, 2021, before United States District Judge Linda V. Parker, to obstructing justice by attempting to get a friend and two of his assistant county prosecutors to make false statements to federal law enforcement officers and a federal grand jury in a federal criminal investigation of Smith’s own criminal conduct.
Smith’s obstruction of justice related to an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that revealed that between 2012 and 2020, Smith conducted two fraud schemes to steal approximately $75,000 in cash from his political campaign fund to use for personal expenses. When he became aware of a federal grand jury investigation in 2019, Smith pressured three witnesses to lie and commit perjury on his behalf to federal authorities and a federal grand jury.
Smith admitted that he had stolen over $74,000 from his campaign fund through two different fraud schemes. In one scheme, Smith falsely claimed that he was using campaign funds to pay rent on office space for his re-election efforts. In truth, however, Smith never used the office space, but instead wrote dozens of fraudulent checks to a friend worth over $50,000. The friend then kicked back cash from all of the cashed checks to Smith to use for his personal expenses. In a second fraud scheme, Smith wrote a check for $20,000 from the campaign fund to an assistant Macomb County prosecutor, ostensibly for “consulting” work on the campaign. However, the assistant prosecutor then cashed the check and surreptitiously provided $15,000 in cash to Smith for Smith’s personal expenses.
Smith has agreed to forfeit the $69,950 in fraud proceeds that he personally received from his scheme to steal from his campaign account.
US Attorney Ison stated, “Today, Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith was sentenced to prison for violating his oath of office and betraying the trust that the Macomb County voters placed in him. Smith used his position to steal money, and then used his authority to ask witnesses to lie to federal investigators and to a federal grand jury. As an elected prosecutor, his conduct strikes at the very core of our justice system. Today’s sentence proves that our justice system works and that no one, not even a county’s chief law enforcement officer is above the law.”
“Eric Smith began his career by taking an oath to uphold the law. Sadly, Smith ended that career by encouraging others to break the law,” said Josh Hauxhurst, Acting Special in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “Today’s sentence is proof that his attempt to shield himself from the consequences of his criminal activities failed because of the determination of FBI and the US Attorney’s Office to hold accountable public officials who engage in criminal and corrupt behavior.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Moran.