Here’s why the Santa Clara County Sheriff is in hot water


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Santa Clara County’s top cop, Sheriff Laurie Smith, is in hot water because a civil grand jury leveled seven counts of corruption and misconduct against her.

Smith made her first court appearance via a live Zoom video feed Friday and waived her right to a speedy trial. Smith did not wear her uniform and she let her attorney, Allen Ruby, handle most of the talking for the 1-hour hearing.

Smith did not admit to or deny the grand jury’s accusations.

The case is complex mix of criminal and civil law with multiple jurisdictions roped in. A grand jury comprised of Santa Clara County residents accused Smith of corruption and willful misconduct. Nearly 70 witnesses testified for the grand jury before it handed down accusations in December.

The San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case because Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen recused himself. The judge presiding over the case is San Mateo County Judge Nancy Fineman.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP / Getty Images)

What’s at stake for Smith? If the sheriff is found guilty, she won’t be facing jail time nor slapped with a hefty fine. But she would lose her job.

Smith has served as Santa Clara County’s sheriff for 24 years. She won five re-elections and is currently in her sixth term.

“If she is found liable she would be removed from office. It’s not like she’s going to jail, and she’s not looking at monetary damages,” legal analyst Michele Hagan said.

Smith is up for re-election in June. She has not yet declared if she will run for re-election.

If the case moves forward to a trial, her defense attorneys will likely try to discredit the accusations as politically-motivated, Hagan said.

The counts against Smith accuse her of running a “pay-to-play” corruption scheme, trading Concealed Weapons Permits for campaign contributions, failing to report gifts, and failing to cooperate with internal affairs investigations over incidents at the jail.

Smith came under fire last year for multiple incidents in the county jail that endangered the lives of mentally ill inmates. The county paid millions of dollars in settlements to inmates and their families.

County supervisors passed a vote of “no confidence” for Smith serving as sheriff. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called for Smith to resign.

Liccardo said, “As a former deputy DA in this County, my experience with Sheriff Smith’s poor leadership of her department convinced me years ago to repeatedly decline to endorse her re-election. Sheriff Smith’s repeated mismanagement of the jail has destroyed lives, violating the most basic of civil rights of its inmates, including: death of Michael Tyree in 2015; severe head injuries of Andrew Hogan in 2018; severe spinal injury of Martin Nunez in 2019; and a seven-minute beating of a man by 31 other inmates in 2020.”

During Friday’s hearing, Ruby said the sheriff will contest the accusations and file a statement of insufficiencies on all seven counts.

Smith’s next court date is scheduled for Feb. 22. If judge rules that the accusations are sufficient, Smith will be required to enter a plea.

Civil grand jury counts against Sheriff Smith

Count 1 – Illegally issuing concealed carry weapon permits (CCW) to VIP’s

“On and between December 16, 2015 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office, by abusing the discretion granted to her by Penal Code section 26150, to wit: implementing policy or practice of granting Licenses to Carry Pistol, Revolver, or Other Firearm Capable of Being Concealed Upon the Person (‘CCWS’ or ‘CCW Licenses’) on the basis of whether given applicant was campaign donor, member of the Sheriff’ Advisory Board nonprofit organization, prominent individual in the community or was associated with prominent individuals 0r corporations, or otherwise had personal connection to LAURIE SMITH (collectively, ‘VIPs).”

Count 2 – Failing to properly investigate whether non-VIP’s should receive CCW permits

“On and between December 16, 2015 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office, by abusing the discretion granted to her by Penal Code section 26150, to wit: failing to make an investigation and determination of good cause, on an individual basis, of those applications for CCW Licenses that were submitted by residents of Santa Clara County who were not VIPs.”

Count 3 – Keeping non-VIP CCW applications pending indefinitely

“On and between December 16, 201 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office by violating Penal Code section 26205, to wit: failing to provide notice by the statutorily-prescribed deadlines to CCW applicants who were not VIPs to whether their applications for CCW Licenses were approved or denied, including but not limited to by keeping applications pending indefinitely without the fingerprints of each applicant being taken and forwarded to the Department Of Justice for criminal background check.”

Count 4 – Illegally accepting suite tickets, food, and drinks at Sharks game

“On and between January 3, 2019 and February 14, 2019, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office by committing the crime of Accepting An Unlawful Gift, in violation of Government Code sections 89503 and 91000, to wit: accepting from Harpreet Chadha the use of Expert Quote Inc.’s suite at the SAP Center for February 14, 2019 San Jose Sharks hockey game, including the gift of suite tickets and suite food and beverages collectively worth more than the then-applicable gift limitation of $500 from single source.”

Count 5 – Failing to report Sharks hockey game gifts

“On or about May 13, 2020, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office by committing the crime of Failing to Report Gift on her Annual Statement of Economic Interests, in violation of the County of Santa Clara Conflict of Interest Code and Government Code sections 87300 and 91000, to wit: failing to report on her calendar-year 2019 Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) her receipt of gift from Harpreet Chadha or ExpertQuote, Inc. consisting of the use of ExpertQuote Inc.’s suite at the SAP Cefiter for February 14, 2019 San Jose Sharks
hockey game, including the gift of suite tickets and suite food and beverages.”

Count 6 – Committing perjury by failing to disclose Sharks game gifts

“On or about May 13, 2020, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County of Santa Clara, California, did commit willful and corrupt misconduct in office by committing the crime of Perjury, in violation of Penal Code section 118, to wit: certifying under penalty of perjury in case in which certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury, to wit: her calendar-year 201 Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) and willfully stating as true any material matter with she knows to be false; to wit: that the information contained on said Form 700 and its attachments was true and complete.”

Count 7 – Failing to cooperate with internal affairs investigation surrounding treatment of inmate Andrew Hogan

“On and between April 5, 2021 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of the County 0f Santa Clara, California, did commit willfill misconduct in office by Violating County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code Title A, Division A20, section A20-64, to wit: failing to cooperate and promptly supply information or records requested by the County 0f Santa Clara Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring (“OCLEM”) relating to the Sheriff’s Office’s internal affairs investigation into an
incident that occurred in August 201 regarding Mr. Andrew Hogan.”

   



Source link

Leave a Comment

x