Motion denied to reopen case involving ex-prosecutor

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

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MACOMB COUNTY — A Macomb County judge has denied a case to be reopened.

Jared Maynard’s motion to set aside a final order from January 2019 and to reopen a case involving former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith was heard before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto Sept. 13.

Frank Cusumano, who is representing Maynard, said he asked the judge to reopen the case. The case involves checking account records of forfeiture accounts maintained by Smith. In March 2020, Smith, of Macomb Township, resigned as prosecutor.

After the court hearing, Cusumano described Maynard as a citizen activist.

Had the case been reopened, Cusumano said it would have allowed for Michigan State Police records to be produced.

“The judge said it would be fruitless,” Cusumano said when asked about his understanding of why the reopen request was denied. “If someone misrepresents something to a court, the court makes a decision on it — that’s not fruitless.”

In November 2018, Smith turned over forfeiture funds. At that point, Cusumano and Maynard filed a freedom of information act, or FOIA, request to the Prosecutor’s Office to see how the funds were spent.

The funds include money generated from assets seized from drug forfeitures or drunken drivers.

In 2019, a forensic audit was completed as it relates to prosecutor forfeiture funds. In September of the same year, a court order in this case from the Michigan Court of Appeals stated the motions to dismiss the case were granted.

Cusumano said the judge referenced that Smith is facing more serious charges, a reason to end the inquiry. Federally, Smith is set to be sentenced this fall on one felony count of obstruction of justice. At the state level, Smith faces 10 felonies.

“There’s certain documents and records that weren’t provided pursuant from the original FOIA,” Cusumano said. “In theory, the court was mistaken or fraud had been committed about the existence of those records.”

Cusumano said the end goal of the case would’ve been to show that Maynard is entitled to those records.

In June 2019, Cusumano filed the lawsuit following the tabulation of a search warrant of the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office in Mount Clemens.

Cusumano sent a FOIA request to the Michigan State Police. He received an invoice from the state police for about $4,000.

To date, the records Cusumano requested, like forfeiture account records from the tabulation, haven’t been produced.

Smith’s attorney in this case, Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Josh Van Laan, could not be reached for comment by press time.