Testimony Oct. 21 in Macomb County 41-B District Court in Clinton Township in the case against ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, pictured, came from former Macomb County Commissioner Robert Leonetti and former office manager at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office Jennifer Meech.

Testimony Oct. 21 in Macomb County 41-B District Court in Clinton Township in the case against ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, pictured, came from former Macomb County Commissioner Robert Leonetti and former office manager at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office Jennifer Meech.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Former county commissioner, prosecutor’s office manager, testify in Smith case

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 29, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — Insight from a former county commissioner and manager in the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office marked the continuation of a high-level court case.

The preliminary exam began in July in the state of Michigan case against Eric Smith and Derek Miller. It continued in Macomb County’s 41-B District Court in Clinton Township Oct. 21.

The case is before Judge Cynthia Arvant of the 46th District Court in Southfield since district court judges in Macomb County recused themselves.

In court the morning of Oct. 21, two individuals were called to testify — former Macomb County Commissioner Robert Leonetti and former office manager at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office Jennifer Meech.

One issue brought up with Leonetti was a 2016 and 2018 Macomb County Board of Commissioners resolution. The resolutions regarded designating public fund depositories in compliance with an act from 1932. It calls for Macomb County funds to be placed in approved banks and financial institutions by the treasurer.   

Leonetti was elected to the board in 2016, with his term beginning in 2017. He served on that governing body until 2020. In his first term, he was on the audit and finance committees.

Miller was appointed Macomb County Treasurer in February 2016, following the death of Ted Wahby. Upon unsuccessfully running for treasurer in 2016, Miller rejoined the Prosecutor’s Office in 2017.

Miller’s appointment required a majority vote of a three-member group, which Smith was part of.

In questioning Leonetti, Assistant Michigan Attorney General Michael Frezza said Miller and Smith are “in league” with one another, a statement that drew some gasps in the courtroom.

“Not in a bad way,” Frezza said. “In that Miller received favorable treatment from Eric Smith.”

When Arvant questioned that statement, Frezza said it makes it more likely than not that Smith didn’t want to turn over the Prosecutor Office forfeiture funds and that Miller, in satisfying Smith’s desires, suggested changing employer identification numbers to make it more difficult to locate those funds.

Miller’s attorney, Steve Fishman, said Frezza is making an argument that ignores the prior testimony of James Langtry.

Langtry is the former Macomb County chief assistant prosecutor.

Miller, 38, is the ex-Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office chief of operations. He is charged with a pair of felonies — common law offenses and general conspiracy.

Recalling a 2016 meeting with Miller before the general election, Leonetti said Miller told him that if Leonetti was elected, there is a Prosecutor’s Office fund that “for accounting purposes, should be parked into the general fund.”

In February 2017, Leonetti said he met with Plante Moran representatives about the county audit.

Thinking of his conversation with Miller and that Miller didn’t win the election, Leonetti said he owed it to Miller to mention to Plante Moran the fund going into the general fund.

Leonetti said there was no discussion about the fund until 2019, when Treasurer Larry Rocca questioned whether the fund should be moved.

Arvant said there’s nothing in the resolutions that talks about county departments’ obligation to turn funds over to the treasurer; rather, it directs what the treasurer’s obligation is.

In questioning Leonetti, John Dakmak, Smith’s attorney, said a lawsuit was filed by the Board of Commissioners against Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. Dakmak said it demanded transparency in the way funds were accounted for and spent.

Leonetti elaborated that the lawsuit is about the board seeking more information from a program, allowing subcategories within the budget to be viewed.

In bringing up the Hackel lawsuit, Frezza said Dakmak is attempting to introduce irrelevant evidence.

In her testimony, Meech said she became aware of the four accounts and that Smith turned them over to the Treasurer’s Office in November 2018.

Meech began working in the Prosecutor’s Office in 2011. From June 2017 to July 2021, she was the office manager.

In submitting financial requests related to the expenditure of forfeiture funds, Meech said Macomb County forms weren’t used.

“For the forfeiture accounts, I would prepare my receipts and give them to Lori Addelia for reimbursement,” she said. “I would make a notation of what the items were purchased for.”

In March 2020, Smith was charged with 10 felonies by the state — conducting a criminal enterprise, common law offenses, tampering with evidence, five counts of embezzlement by a public official, accessory after the fact to a felony and forgery conspiring.

The 55-year-old Smith promptly resigned from his role as prosecutor after the charges were announced.

Also called to testify Oct. 21 was Jason Ellis, principal of Beacon Tree Elementary School in Shelby Township, and Lori Addelia, Smith’s administrative assistant.

This case continues Nov. 19 with another preliminary exam.

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