Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has been hit with 10 criminal corruption charges -- including running a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony -- in connection with the alleged misuse of county forfeiture funds.
He was arraigned Friday morning in 41B District Court.
A not guilty plea was entered on Smith’s behalf. A probable cause conference has been set for 8:30 a.m. April 3. The state asked for a $250,000 personal recognizance bond, while the defense asked for it be to $10,000. The state also asked for Smith’s passport to be seized and for Smith to be held from not leaving the state of Michigan.
Judge Cynthia Arvant decided Smith does not appear to be a flight risk, as he is still working as the county prosecutor. She set his personal bond at $100,000, ordered his passport surrendered and that he does not have contact with his codefendants or any witnesses for anything relative to this case.
Smith was charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, five counts of embezzlement by a public official, misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, accessory after the fact and conspiracy to commit forgery.
State officials allege Smith’s right-hand man, current Prosecutor’s Office operations manager and former Macomb County state representative and county treasurer Derek Miller, committed misconduct in office and conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner with Smith.
Retired Prosecutor’s Office employee Benjamin Liston is also charged, as is William Weber Jr., who owns a security company.
Liston pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Friday. His counsel, attorney David Griem, waived Liston’s probable cause conference. A preliminary exam has been set for 8:30 a.m. April 9.
The state asked for a $200,000 personal bond for Liston. They also said Liston has a second residence in Arizona, where they claim he fled to after charges were announced.
“Total lie,” Liston interrupted.
Griem said Liston has been living in Arizona with his wife and immediately traveled to Michigan when requested and called it “disingenuous” to say he “fled” the state. He requested that Liston be allowed to travel between his home in Arizona, his home in Warren, Mich. and the court in Michigan, and asked for bond to be set lower. Griem also said Liston’s passport will be handed over to the court.
Judge Arvant said she does not see Liston as a risk for fleeing prosecution. She set bond at $100,00 personal. She did request for his passport to be surrendered. As for travel out of the state, Arvant said Liston will not be allowed to travel before April 9. She will reconsider travel for him after that date, depending on the state of the coronavirus outbreak.
Miller will be arraigned at a later date.
Weber was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in front of Southfield 46th District Court Judge Cynthia Arvant via video from the Michigan State Police North Metro Post.
He was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond and ordered not to have contact with his co-defendants or travel outside the state. He also has to surrender his passport to District 4B probation within 48 hours, officials said.