State investigates Macomb County prosecutor's handling of 'secret' bank accounts

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith under investigation

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. - The state of Michigan is investigating Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and his handling of "secret" bank accounts that contain asset forfeiture funds from drug arrests and DUI car confiscation.

Around $300,000 per year is in play, and Local 4 received the bank records after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Macomb County Prosecutor's Office blotted out the account numbers, but the bank records are from four different accounts, which is the number of accounts Macomb County Treasurer Lawrence Rocca told the state he wanted access to and couldn't get when he asked for an investigation.

As of Dec. 31, the accounts held just under $300,000. The records show that, when Smith reported to the state in January, he had either spent or donated $252,000.

On June 1, the accounts were replenished and contained just under $200,000.

The forfeiture accounts are used for expenses such as victim restitution, funeral expenses, airfare for out-of-state witnesses and state-mandated charitable donations of 25 percent, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Most of the donations Smith listed were made to Macomb County police departments.

One number that jumps out is the 94 separate Uber rides that were paid for, starting in November.

The accounts were debited a total of just under $2,100.

The Prosecutor's Office told Local 4 there was going to be a press release notifying everyone that the office is now paying for rides for witnesses or victims who don't have transportation, as a way to make sure cases proceed. The office claims too many cases were thrown out due to a lack of witnesses or victim testimony.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet is troubled by the way Smith handled the accounts.

"There should be no fund in government that's not audited and not open and transparent," Drolet said. "I have no knowledge there is anything wrong going on here, but we should not have to wonder."

The treasurer wants to audit the accounts, but Smith won't allow it.

The treasurer and the Michigan Department of Treasury had no comment on the case.

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