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Former Macomb County prosecutor enters guilty plea to federal obstruction charges

Michigan State Police

Former Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in federal court Wednesday.

His plea hearing was conducted by video conference in front of U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker.

Smith admitted that he tried to get a friend and two of his assistant county proscutors to lie to federal law enforcement officers and to a federal grand jury in an effort to hide his own criminal conduct.

As part of his guilty plea, Smith also admitted that he had stolen almost $75,000 from his own campaign fund through two different fraud schemes. 

"I acted alone. I acted for my own benefit," said Smith at the plea hearing. He also said he deeply regreted his actions and the shame he has brought on his wife and children and the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. 

In a written statement, Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said,  "This case shows that our system works. When there is a rare case where a law enforcement officer commits crimes, he or she will be held accountable. Smith's case is that kind of case. No one is above the law in Michigan — and that includes those who enforce the law."

Under a plea agreement signed in September 2020, sentencing guidelines were set between 15 and 21 months in federal prison. However, the judge is not bound by that recommendation.

Obstruction of justice is a federal felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  Smith's sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 27, 2021.

Smith is also facing multiple state felony charges brought by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for Smith's alleged participation in a scheme to embezzle approximately $600,000 in asset forfeiture funds. 

Smith was elected prosecutor for Macomb County in 2004. He resigned his position in March, 2020.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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