Coronavirus concerns cited in adjournment of ex-Macomb prosecutor’s plea hearing

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published November 10, 2020

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MACOMB COUNTY — A plea hearing for ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has been pushed back due to COVID-19 concerns.

Smith, of Macomb Township, was scheduled to appear via Zoom before U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for an Oct. 28 plea hearing.

A day prior to the hearing, it was adjourned.

This case was presented in federal court in September and charges Smith with one felony count of intimidation or force against a witness.

Court documents indicate that Smith’s family was in direct personal contact with two people who have each tested positive for COVID-19.

“Defendant and his immediate family are now in quarantine at their home pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines,” the order states. “It is in the best interest of justice that the defendant be present in his counsel’s office to prepare for and execute the plea hearing.”

The videoconference is now set for 11 a.m. Nov. 13.

In September, Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Michigan, said the allegations against Smith are in connection with his official duties as the elected county prosecutor, encouraging at least two assistant prosecuting attorneys to lie to the FBI.

Schneider added that the purpose of the lies was so Smith, who was prosecutor from 2005 to his March resignation, could obstruct a federal grand jury investigation into a wire fraud scam Smith was perpetrating.

In a September arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Anthony Patti, the court entered a not guilty plea on Smith’s behalf.

The penalty for the charge is up to 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

Federal authorities allege that Smith stole money from his campaign account and used it for his personal “whims.”

Schneider provided two examples of Smith conducting fraud schemes to steal approximately $75,000 in cash from his political campaign fund to use for personal expenses.

He explained why federal authorities believe Smith tried to get his associate to lie to federal law enforcement.

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