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 brought seven counts of corruption and misconduct against her. .

Smith made his first court appearance via a Zoom live video stream on Friday and waived his right to a speedy trial. Smith was not wearing her uniform and she let her attorney, Allen Ruby, handle most of the discussion during the hour-long hearing.

Smith did not admit or deny the grand jury charges.

The case is a complex mix of criminal and civil law with multiple jurisdictions circled. A grand jury of Santa Clara County residents charged Smith with bribery and willful misconduct. Nearly 70 witnesses testified before the grand jury before it entered charges in December.

The San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office is pursuing 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 is at stake for Smith? If the sheriff is found guilty, she won’t face jail time or a hefty fine. But she would lose her job.

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

“If she is found responsible, she would be removed from her position. It’s not like she’s going to jail and she’s not considering damages,” legal analyst Michele Hagan said.

Smith is re-elected in June. She has not yet declared whether she will run again.

If the case goes to trial, his defense attorneys will likely try to discredit the charges as politically motivated, Hagan said.

The charges against Smith accuse him of running a ‘pay-to-play’ bribery scheme, trading concealed weapons permits for campaign contributions, failing to report gifts and failing to cooperate with internal affairs investigations into incidents at the prison.

Smith came under fire last year for multiple incidents at 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” in Smith as sheriff. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called on Smith to step down.

Liccardo said, “As a former assistant district attorney for this county, my experience with Sheriff Smith’s misdirection of his department convinced me years ago to repeatedly refuse to endorse his re-election. Sheriff Smith’s repeated mismanagement of the prison has destroyed lives, violating the most basic civil rights of his inmates, including: the 2015 death of Michael Tyree; serious head injuries to Andrew Hogan in 2018; serious spinal injury to Martin Nunez in 2019; and a beating of a man for seven minutes by 31 other inmates in 2020.”

At Friday’s hearing, Ruby said the sheriff will dispute the charges and file a statement of deficiencies on all seven counts.

Smith’s next court date is scheduled for February 22. If the judge decides the charges are sufficient, Smith will have to enter a plea.

Civil grand jury counts against Sheriff Smith

Account 1 – Illegally issuing concealed carry permits (CCW) to VIPs

“Between December 16, 2015 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed willful and corrupt misconduct in his office, by abusing the discretionary power which granted to him. by section 26150 of the Penal Code, namely: carrying out a policy or practice of granting licenses to carry a pistol, revolver or other firearm that can be concealed from the person ( “CCWS” or “CCW Licenses”) on the basis of whether the applicant was a campaign donor, a member of the Sheriff’s Advisory Board non-profit organization, a prominent person in the community, or was associated with persons or to prominent corporations, or otherwise had a personal connection with LAURIE SMITH (collectively, the “VIPs”).

Count 2 – Not properly investigating whether non-VIPs should receive CCW permits

“Between December 16, 2015 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed willful and corrupt misconduct in his office, by abusing the discretionary power which granted to him. per Penal Code Section 26150, namely: the failure to investigate and determine the just cause, on an individual basis, of those applications for CCW licenses that were submitted by residents of Santa County Clara who were not VIPs. »

Count 3 – Keep non-VIP CCW applications on hold indefinitely

“Between December 16, 201 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed an intentional and corrupt misconduct in office by violating Section 26205 of the Penal Code, for spirit: failing to provide timely notice to CCW applicants who were not VIPs whether their applications for CCW licenses were approved or denied, including, but not limited to, keeping applications on hold indefinitely without each applicant being fingerprinted and submitted to the Department of Justice for criminal background checks.

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

“Between January 3, 2019 and February 14, 2019, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed a willful and corrupt misconduct in office by committing the crime of acceptance of an illegal act. Gift, in violation of Government Code Sections 89503 and 91000, namely: accepting from Harpreet Chadha the use of Expert Quote Inc.’s suite at the SAP Center for the February 14, 2019 San Jose Sharks hockey game, including the gift of suite tickets and suite food and beverages are collectively worth more than the then applicable gift limit of $500 from a single source.

Count 5 – Failing to report Sharks hockey game giveaways

“On or about May 13, 2020, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed a willful and corrupt misconduct of office by committing the crime of failing to report a gift in his return. Annual Economic Interest Statement, in violation of Santa Clara County Conflict of Interest Code Sections 87300 and 91000 and the Governmental Code, namely: failing to declare on his statement of economic interests for the calendar year 2019 (Form 700) his gift receipt from Harpreet Chadha or ExpertQuote, Inc. consisting of use of ExpertQuote Inc.’s suite at 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 Santa Clara County, California, committed a willful and corrupt misconduct of office by committing the crime of perjury, contrary to Section 118 of the Penal Code, namely: certifying under penalty of perjury in the event certification is authorized by California State law under penalty of perjury, namely: its calendar year 201 Declaration of Economic Interests (form 700) and willfully stating as true any material matter with it knows to be false; namely: that the information contained on said Form 700 and its attachments was true and complete.”

Count 7 — Failing to cooperate with the Internal Affairs investigation into the treatment of inmate Andrew Hogan

“On April 5, 2021 and November 30, 2021, both dates inclusive, LAURIE SMITH, the duly elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California, committed willful misconduct in office by violating Title A of the Ordinance Code of Santa Clara County. , Division A20, Section A20-64, namely: failure to cooperate and promptly provide information or documents requested by the Santa Clara County Office of Corrections and Law Enforcement (“OCLEM”) regarding the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs investigation of a
August 201 incident involving Mr. Andrew Hogan.

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