A San Mateo County jury this afternoon returned a verdict of guilty against former Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith on six counts of corruption and willful misconduct.
Smith, who announced her retirement on Monday while the jury was deliberating, faced the charges in a civil trial that had been filed by a Santa County Civil Grand Jury in December.
Sentencing in such a case could normally result in her removal from office, but the sheriff‘s surprise announcement two months before the end of her sixth term makes that punishment moot. It remained unclear what sentence could result from the verdict.
“We are gratified that the jury considered the evidence from our investigation and found all the allegations against the sheriff to be true,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement after the verdict. “We look forward to working with the next sheriff and the honest and hard-working sheriff’s deputies to serve our community with honor and integrity.”
“I would like to thank the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and prosecutor Gabriel Markoff for their excellent work on this vital matter.”
Markoff, an assistant district attorney in San Francisco, handled the prosecution to avoid any perception of conflict of interest, the same reason the trial occurred in San Mateo County Superior Court, instead of Santa Clara.
“The actions of a few people are not a reflection of the great work that our deputies do every day,” Acting Sheriff Ken Binder said in a statement. “The men and women of the Sheriff’s Office are looking forward to new beginnings, with the Sheriff election coming up next week.”
Binder was named acting sheriff on Monday.
Smith, a six-term sheriff who turned 70 this year, first joined the county Sheriff's Department in 1973.
The misconduct allegations against Smith by a Santa Clara County civil grand jury included doling out concealed carry licenses to campaign donors, accepting San Jose Sharks tickets and not reporting them as gifts and mismanagement of the county jail.
On Nov. 8, county voters will choose between retired sheriff’s captain Kevin Jensen and retired Palo Alto police chief and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s captain Robert Jonsen as the new sheriff.