Next date set in ex-Macomb prosecutor Eric Smith's embezzlement case

·3 min read

Pretrial conferences are set for June 1 in the embezzlement case against ex-Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith and his former chief of operations.

The date was scheduled after Oakland County Circuit Judge Nanci Grant denied a motion to quash the two charges against codefendant Derek Miller, Smith's former chief of operations.

Prosecutors allege Miller, a former county treasurer, suggested changing the Employer Identification Numbers on the accounts in question.

Former assistant prosecutor Derek Miller, left, listens to testimony with his attorney Steve Fishman before his preliminary exam in front of visiting judge Cynthia Arvant inside 41B District Court in Clinton Township on July 9, 2021.
Former assistant prosecutor Derek Miller, left, listens to testimony with his attorney Steve Fishman before his preliminary exam in front of visiting judge Cynthia Arvant inside 41B District Court in Clinton Township on July 9, 2021.

Miller's attorney, Steve Fishman, previously said: "we have all kinds of evidence to show Mr. Miller had no criminal intent whatsoever," including testimony from witnesses who worked in the county prosecutor's office and testified "under oath after immunity from the (state) prosecutor."

Fishman had no comment on Grant's opinion.

Grant's opinion Friday came more than a month after the last hearing in the case. Grant is handling the cases after all the Macomb circuit judges recused themselves.

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The June pretrial date comes just a few weeks before Smith is supposed to surrender to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

He was accused of stealing money from his campaign fund in a kickback scheme that operated while he was prosecutor. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in federal court in January 2021 after being accused of stealing just under $75,000 from his campaign fund from 2012 to 2019.

Smith was to report to federal prison this week, but his surrender date was rescheduled to on or after June 15, but no later than June 30, according to a federal court order earlier this month.

He was sentenced Feb. 16 to 21 months in federal prison and he was to report within 90 days of his sentencing.

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.

Smith, 55, of Macomb Township, also is facing 10 state charges accusing him of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug and forfeiture funds in his former office. Authorities said he used the money for personal and unauthorized expenses, including a security system at his home.

One of his attorneys, John Dakmak, said after Smith's surrender date was moved back: "considering that we don’t have a clear status of the pending state case, it makes sense at this point to briefly delay Mr. Smith’s surrender to the Bureau of Prisons to determine what a clearer pathway for the state case will be in the coming weeks."

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Last month, Dakmak told Grant there have been some conversations about a potential resolution in the embezzlement case. He did not want to go into the details of the conversations.

A screenshot of circuit court arraignments for ex-Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith and former assistant prosecutor Derek Miller, which were held remotely via Zoom on March 2, 2022.
A screenshot of circuit court arraignments for ex-Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith and former assistant prosecutor Derek Miller, which were held remotely via Zoom on March 2, 2022.

Assistant Michigan Attorney General Michael Frezza previously told Grant that his office also had some preliminary discussions with Fishman.

Two others snared in the embezzlement probe have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

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Smith served as a longtime prosecutor in the third-most populous county in Michigan, with his office overseeing numerous high-profile cases through the years.

He resigned March 30, 2020, less than a week after he was charged in the embezzlement probe. Miller resigned in February.

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

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Next date set in ex-Macomb prosecutor Eric Smith's embezzlement case