Ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith in court accused of embezzlement of $600K

In March of 2020, then-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith turned himself in after being charged with misconduct in office and racketeering.

The attorney general accused him of running a criminal enterprise - alleging he embezzled $600,000 in county forfeiture funds. Nearly two pandemic years later, the case still hasn't gone to trial.

Attorneys argued at Friday's preliminary examination about Smith's home surveillance system he's accused of paying for with drug forfeiture money.

A retired Macomb County deputy sheriff, testified that back in 2012, he stopped and questioned a man on a bicycle in the early morning hours outside Eric Smith's subdivision - but the cyclist was cooperative and not detained.

Defense attorneys called Sheriff Anthony Wickersham who testified he called Eric Smith at the time to let him know, but it wasn't discussed again until Smith was the one being investigated, and he contacted Wickersham to ask if there was a police report from back in 2012.

"I was asked if there was a report - if I could find the date and time of this incident," Wickersham said.

So why does a seemingly meaningless midnight bicycle rider back in 2012 even matter? The assistant attorney general says it doesn't.

"There's nothing eric smith would fear regarding some unknown bicyclist (due to his home surveillance system)

Smith's defense attorney fired back.

"People are probably asking what's he doing with a security system - here's essentially the reason," the defense attorney said.

But that wasn't enough for the prosecution -  instead asking the sheriff about his own home security system and how he paid for it.

"You didn't have the drug forfeiture funds pay for that that your office controls - did you?" asked the prosecutor

"No," Wickersham said.

"Why -  because it's improper?" the prosecutor asked.

The defense objected as the prosecutor went after Eric Smith.

"Judge what we've got here is he's arguing somehow it was reasonable for an unknown bicyclist to be out on the main road and for him to pay for, with drug forfeiture funds, public money, his own personal home security system among other things that he had installed in his house," the prosecutor said.

A testy exchange but no conclusion - the preliminary examination - that started in July - continues Feb. 4th.

Smith is scheduled for sentencing in federal court for obstruction of justice at the end of this month.