Former prosecutor staffer testifies as state case continues

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published December 22, 2021

 Lori Addelia, Eric Smith’s former administrative secretary at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, testifies Dec. 9. She discussed forfeiture accounts and how invoices were handled in the office.

Lori Addelia, Eric Smith’s former administrative secretary at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, testifies Dec. 9. She discussed forfeiture accounts and how invoices were handled in the office.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB COUNTY — On Dec. 9, the state of Michigan case against ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and ex-Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office chief of operations Derek Miller continued in Macomb County’s 41-B District Court in Clinton Township for a preliminary examination.

The prosecution sought to show what county-funded checks were used for.

Testifying first that day was Lori Addelia, Smith’s former administrative secretary. She served in that role for about a decade, until Smith resigned from office in March 2020.

Addelia, who first began working in the Prosecutor’s Office in 2007, has known Smith for most of his life.

As secretary, she said one responsibility was handling checkbooks for the four accounts held by the Prosecutor’s Office — operating while intoxicated, or OWI, forfeitures, drug forfeitures, Warren drug court, and bad check restitution program. The case involves checking account records of forfeiture accounts maintained by Smith.

Unless otherwise directed to, Addelia used the OWI account for almost all bills that came in.

She indicated she stored the forfeiture account checkbooks, receipts and bank statements in the back of her desk, located outside of Smith’s office.

“When I received the receipts, I would generally write the checks,” Addelia said.

Upon Assistant Michigan Attorney General Michael Frezza asking how she knew whether an invoice was appropriate to pay with a forfeiture account, John Dakmak, Smith’s attorney, objected, saying it was beyond the scope of the case.

Next, Addelia said it was correct that Smith would tell her to write checks from the accounts.

When she came across an unusual payment request, Addelia said she would ask Smith or former Macomb County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jim Langtry if it was appropriate for the Prosecutor’s Office or Macomb County to pay.   

Frezza then had Addelia read from several exhibits in the case of checks from the Prosecutor’s Office forfeiture account, with Smith’s signature.

One was a $5,000 check for Shelby Township’s Beacon Tree Elementary volunteers from June 2012 from the drug forfeiture account. Beacon Tree is where Smith’s children attended school.

Addelia said when Smith told her to write a check, she would, “because he was my boss.”    

Frezza’s argument in questioning Addelia was that no alternative funds were proposed, except from one of the forfeiture funds, when, for example, it came to costs for Prosecutor’s Office employee retirement gifts and parties involving the Prosecutor’s Office.

It was revealed that, often, retirement gifts were purchased from Things Remembered, and Prosecutor’s Office Christmas parties catered from Fern Hill Golf Club in Clinton Township.

Also from the OWI account, checks were made to help area churches, usually for $500.

Dakmak said checks not involving any of the charges are irrelevant, talking about Smith giving direction to Addelia to sign forfeiture account checks with his name.

“I’ll stipulate that she signed his name various times with these checks,” Dakmak said.

A check was made to Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar in Shelby Township, where Smith’s wife worked at the time, from the bad check account for $1,500; $1,000 for a three-year sponsorship package for the Chippewa Valley High School yearbook; $2,100 from the bad check account for a Christmas lunch; $780 to Say Cheesecake from the drug forfeiture account; and $1,360 to Fern Hill from the bad check fund.

Addelia said that, for the OWI account, people would pay either $900 or $1,800, depending on what number offense it was.

The case continued Dec. 20, after press time, for a review.

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