Michigan County Prosecutor Charged With Embezzling Asset Forfeiture Funds
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday that her office had charged Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and three other county officials with a “litany” of felony crimes for embezzling and misusing funds seized through asset forfeiture.
Smith is charged with 10 criminal counts, including embezzling, official misconduct, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit forgery, and conducting a criminal enterprise.
The charges follow a year-long investigation that was launched after a successful public records lawsuit revealed more than $100,000 in questionable expenditures from Macomb County’s asset forfeiture fund. Authorities now estimate the Smith and other officials embezzled roughly $600,000 since 2012.
According to the attorney general’s office, the investigation “found that Smith and other defendants used the money to buy flowers and make-up for select secretaries, a security system for Smith’s residence, garden benches for staffers’ homes, country club catering for parties, campaign expenditures and more.”
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize property—cash, cars, and even houses—suspected of being connected to criminal activity such as drug trafficking.
Law enforcement groups say asset forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt organized crime. However, civil libert
Article from Latest – Reason.com