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Former Macomb prosecutor gets 21-month sentence for kickback scheme, cover-up

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Ex-Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith will spend 21 months in prison for obstructing justice, a federal judge decided on Wednesday.

Smith, who was the prosecutor in Michigan’s third-most populous county for nearly 16 years before he resigned in 2020, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He wrote checks from his campaign fund to friends and subordinates, who kicked the money back to him. When the FBI started investigating, Smith tried to organize a cover-up.

At his sentencing hearing, Smith tearfully told Judge Linda Parker that was “the worst thing I could do,” and that he made “very poor choices and very poor decisions.” He apologized to his former colleagues and family.

Smith’s lawyer asked the court for probation, noting that the former prosecutor has Type 1 diabetes and has contracted COVID-19 twice.

But Parker wasn’t swayed by those pleas, saying Smith did “incalculable harm” to the criminal justice system with his schemes.

“Mr. Smith’s deeds in his case are egregious,” Parker said. “This court has to take into consideration the general concept and terms that no one is above the law. While this is not a violent crime, this is a crime that hurts the public (trust).”

Smith must report to prison within 90 days. But his legal troubles aren’t over yet. He still faces a slew of state criminal charges for allegedly embezzling nearly $600,000 from county asset forfeiture funds.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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