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Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith resigns

SAN JOSE — Six-term Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith abruptly submitted her resignation Monday morning in an apparent last-minute bid to avoid the outcome of a civil service corruption trial. A jury is actively deliberating whether she abused her power in office..

Smith’s one-sentence letter to the secretary of the Supervisory Board does not explain why she is leaving the agency where she has been with for nearly 50 years, but simply states: , 2022. But in court Monday afternoon, her attorney, Allen Ruby, asked the judge in the corruption trial to dismiss the charges against Smith, and the main punishment she faces, her dismissal, is now null and void. claimed to be meaningful. no longer held.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Nancy Feynman did not immediately issue a ruling, and a court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Smith faces 6 civil lawsuits for corruption and willful misconduct It was filed last year by a county civil grand jury. Her accusations against her included: Illegal favoritism when she issues concealed carry permits Avoiding gift reporting lawsan effort to thwart a private auditor investigation into a high-profile prison injury case.

Smith, who was first elected as the state’s first female sheriff in 1998, did not make a public statement on Monday. Ruby declined public comment, citing an ongoing trial.

Ironically, had Smith accepted the prosecutor’s offer to drop the corruption charges, he could have settled the case without a trial. If she resigns by July 15thbut she stepped forward.

A juror, who began considering evidence Friday after hearing about a month of testimony, plans to resume deliberations Wednesday, said a Santa Clara County Superior Court spokesperson. It doesn’t affect me,” he said.

Deputy Sheriff Ken Binder will serve as interim sheriff until someone is elected in November, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Ryan Elder, president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association for Law Enforcement Agents, said the union supports Smith’s decision and “looks forward to turning the page and moving our department forward.” rice field.

“We recognize her decades of service and hope that the new leadership will restore some of the trust in our department that was bruised by this tragic episode,” said Elder. said.

The sheriff announced earlier this year She plans to retire at the end of her term in January.cites a cloud of political and legal scrutiny as the primary reason for not running for re-election. On November 8, county voters will choose Kevin Jensen, a retired sheriff’s captain, and Robert “Bob” Johnsen, a retired Palo Alto Police Chief and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Captain, were appointed as her permanent successors.

Also on Monday, the news agency said through a public records request that former sheriff Rick Song who was criminally charged Song quietly retired on Oct. 20, based on allegations that he brokered a donation of the suite in exchange for the grantor’s issuance of a gun concealment permit. On leave from November 2020.

Jensen, who ran for the sheriff’s office in 2014, said in a statement:

In response to his resignation, Johnsen said in a statement:

Smith’s resignation is not, as speculated on Monday, a move to protect her pension. It was never in danger because of the corruption trial. Criminal court structure, but civil courts, cannot end with a felony conviction. Just dismiss her. According to her public records, in 2021 she received about $500,000 in her salary and benefits, and her base salary was $312,000. Records show that Sung retired based on a salary of approximately $298,000.

Supervisor Otto Lee, along with outgoing supervisor Joe Simimian, led the first political charges against Smith last fall. torrent of scrutiny From the Board of Supervisors over Smith’s prison administration and gun permit scandal – which also supported her decision to resign. vote of no confidence Smith and External Investigations by State Attorneys General.

“I appreciate Sheriff Smith’s willingness to finally end his service to our community,” Lee said. We have been focused on supporting Deputy Sheriffs who serve us with distinction.”

I have no objection to the board’s request County Citizens Grand Jury to Investigate CCW and prison issues paved the way for Smith’s decision to resign. The jury’s conclusions also serve as a precursor to how two separate criminal bribery indictments filed against defendants, including Song and trusted adviser Captain James Jensen, will play out at trial. There is a possibility. reviewed the evidence behind those charges.

Simimian said the county has a lot of work to do to recover from Smith’s eventful tenure, but he believes the community will be far better off in the end.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh start. I hope we all take it. These are difficult times for law enforcement. No. We now have the opportunity to do just that.”

Staff writer Gabriel Greschler contributed to this report.

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