This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Deadline Detroit.


Corruption evidence against Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith is mounting and will amount to “another dark cloud over the county” when federal investigators release their findings, says County Executive Mark Hackel.

Smith is now under investigation by the FBI, Michigan State Police and the IRS for alleged misuse of public funds, as Hackel tells it. Financial accounts under scrutiny include one receiving fines for people passing bad checks and another for fines and fees issued by local drug courts, according to the executive.

That revelation goes beyond allegations last spring that Smith had illegally used up to $1.8 million in money and property from penalties imposed on drug dealers and drunken drivers.

“When this all comes out, it’s not going to be a pleasant day, I can assure you,” the county executive said Tuesday while addressing a Macomb Community College class in Clinton Township.

Smith, the county’s top cop since being elected prosecutor in 2004, is a longtime political ally and friend of Hackel’s. Both Democrats are recognized statewide as officials with potential for higher office.

But Hackel went public with concerns about Smith’s secretive spending in March after a Freedom of Information Act request by former Macomb County Republican Party chairman Jared Maynard unveiled strange spending patterns by the prosecutor’s office over several years.

Documents showed that Smith spent county funds to upgrade his office, his home and to boost his public reputation. State law says these funds are for law enforcement efforts.

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