Former Santa Clara County sheriff guilty in civil corruption trial

Former Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith was found guilty of all charges in a civil corruption count, prosecutors said Thursday.

A jury returned guilty verdicts on six counts of willful or corrupt misconduct in office, confirmed the San Francisco Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case.

The unusual trial was a civil one aimed solely at removing Smith from her position. Although Smith tried to forestall the verdict by abruptly resigning Monday and seeking the case be dismissed, a judge ordered it to go ahead, the Mercury News reported.

Smith’s attorney, Allen Ruby, did not respond to a call and email seeking comment.

The Times could not reach a court clerk to confirm more details about the trial Thursday, but the Mercury News reported Smith will return to court on November 16.

The longtime San Jose-area sheriff announced her sudden resignation Monday. She has struggled to recover from several scandals, including allegations of corruption and bribery among her command staff and abuse in the county jails – which led to a no-confidence vote by the county board of directors last year.

Smith, who became California’s first woman county sheriff in 1998, had spent several weeks fighting the corruption case in civil court.

Prosecutors outlined a bribery scheme in which concealed carry permits were exchanged for political donations.

Smith has not been directly linked to the criminal cases that have implicated her former undersheriff and others.

She previously announced plans to retire at the end of her term in January and opted not to seek re-election, according to Mercury News. Santa Clara County voters will choose a new sheriff in next week’s election.

Smith announced her resignation effective Monday, according to a statement from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. Undersheriff Ken Binder will assume the role of acting sheriff “until a new top police officer is elected or appointed by the board of directors,” the statement said.

The California Attorney General’s Office this year announced a civil rights investigation into the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Former Santa Clara County sheriff guilty in civil corruption trial

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