LANSING, MI – State Sen. Jim Runestad will join several elected officials to demand Attorney General Dana Nessel toughen her sweetheart deal with criminal former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. The plea deal that would diminish prison time and reduce restitution for $600,000 stolen from public coffers. A press conference will start at 10 a.m. at the Macomb County Administration Building.
“AG Dana Nessel, you must change your sweetheart plea deal to demand repayment of the taxpayer-paid pension contribution and stop any future pension contribution as required by Public Act 43 or 2017. I wrote this law to protect Michigan taxpayers and penalize corrupt public officials who steal from the public and violate public trust. Argue to have Mr. Smith sentenced with all 10 original felonies and for his sentence to be carried out in full and in prison,” said Runestad, R-White Lake, who sent an open letter to the attorney general this week.
The plea deal comes after Runestad’s legislation against government corruption, PA 43 of 2017, mandated public employees charged with a felony for defrauding the people could not access their government pension contributions. It has been reported that Smith withdrew $116,134.14 in an annuity cash payout in 2020 after learning of the investigation into his corruption.
Runestad also has begun drafting an amendment to his former legislation to better punish co-conspirators. Smith’s co-conspirators were initially charged with felonies but were then offered plea deals down to misdemeanors, meaning they could keep their government-paid pensions. Runestad’s new bill will extend the law to include those who are charged with misdemeanors.
“Corrupt government officials should not be able to skate out of the courtroom into a life generously padded in cash by the people of Michigan. Thanks to a misdemeanor plea deal offered by a soft-on-crime prosecuting attorney, that is exactly what happened,” Runestad said.
Runestad’s press conference will begin at 10 a.m. at the Macomb County Administration Building, 1 S. Main St. in Mount Clemens. Guest speakers will include Macomb County commissioners Barbara Zinner, James Perna, Don VanSyckle, and Shelby Township Trustee John Vermeulen. Other guests will be announced soon.