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June 18, 2021
LANSING - A businessman charged with former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith will testify against him after pleading guilty in a years-long embezzlement scheme, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.
Last year, Smith was charged with 10 felonies after investigators estimated around $600,000 had been embezzled since 2012 through inappropriate use of forfeiture accounts.
William Weber, the owner of Weber Security Group, Derek Miller, the county's then-current assistant prosecutor and chief of operations, and Benjamin Liston, retired Macomb County assistant prosecutor and former chief of operations, were also charged as a result of the investigation by Nessel's Public Integrity Unity (PIU).
Last September, Liston pleaded guilty to three counts of willful neglect of duty by a public officer holding public trust. As part of his plea, Liston agreed to testify to Smith's role in covering up embezzlements from forfeiture accounts and will be sentenced following that testimony.
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Weber was initially charged with the following:
- one count forgery - a 14-year felony;
- one count larceny by conversion, $20,000 or more - a 10-year felony;
- one count aiding and abetting Smith's embezzlement by a public official - a 10-year felony; and
- one count receiving and concealing stolen property - a 10-year felony.
This morning in Macomb County's 41-B District Court, Weber pleaded guilty to an added charge:
- one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act, in an illegal manner, a 1-year misdemeanor.
The remaining charges were dismissed.
During his plea, Weber admitted to falsifying an invoice at Smith's request for a security system installation at Smith's residence to make it seem as though it was installed at the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. Smith asked Weber to produce the false invoice in response to a subpoena in a pending Macomb County Circuit Court action. The invoice covered up that his home security system had been paid for with county money.
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"Our public servants must uphold the integrity of the offices in which they serve," Nessel said. "My Public Integrity Unit remains committed to ensuring accountability for those who break the public's trust."
In addition to testifying against Smith, Weber also agreed to pay $23,960 in restitution, which he paid this morning.
Smith and Miller are scheduled for a preliminary exam July 9.
Like Liston, Weber will not be sentenced until after his testimony against Smith.
In January, Smith pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for soliciting lies to law enforcement from co-conspirators to cover up his thefts from his campaign account in the federal case against him. He has yet to be sentenced in that case.
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