Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith reacts to state police raiding office

Authorities investigate use of forfeiture funds

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

MT. CLEMENS, Mich. - Macomb County's chief law enforcement official, Prosecutor Eric Smith, is under state investigation Wednesday after troopers served a search warrant at his office.

Michigan State Police officials raided the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office, hoping to learn more about his handling of forfeiture funds.

The money in those forfeiture funds is supposed to be used for specific police and law enforcement activities. Smith's use of the funds is at the center of the investigation, officials said.

Months ago, Macomb County officials forced the bank to give up all the checks used in the accounts, but there are still a lot of questions about where around $900,000 went.

"I recognize this does not look great," Smith said while responding to the raid.

Police left the office with a banker's box full of documents.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet said he's seen most of the evidence in the case because county officials received the forfeiture account checks months ago.

"Taxpayers pay a lot of taxes," Drolet said. "They have a right to know that their money, the money being take from them, is not being used for politicians' personal use, and the evidence is that's been going to the county prosecutor."

Drolet said he has had a raft of questionable checks copied, such as one for $1,000 to the Chippewa Valley High School yearbook, allegedly for an advertisement that includes Smith's name.

"When looking through these checks, we see checks being written for his high school yearbook, the prosecutor's alma mater, for the school his kids go to, for all kinds of uses that have nothing to do with law enforcement," Drolet said.

Drolet recommended and the county commission ordered a forensic audit. Local 4 has learned Michigan State Police took over that forensic audit last week.

"I will continue to be cooperative with the investigation and assist in any way that state police can swiftly conduct their investigation and have this matter fully laid to rest and resolve the misinformation that's existed to date," Smith said.

Smith likely had an idea state police would soon be knocking on his door. They sent a letter to county officials saying the department was taking over the forensic audit and alerted everyone involved that they would be questioned as part of the investigation, according to authorities.

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