Ex-Sheriff Smith Guilty of Corruption, Says Civil Court Jury

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.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. Just an observation,

    GUILTY AS CHARGED. I am a registered indy voter, so if this woman was a democrat, serves her that she is convicted no matter what.


  2. @JAFO. The Fact is Santa Clara County is run by clowns and she was just one of many. They are what the French call, Les Incompétents.

    DA Rosen calls this vital work, yet Sheriff Smith was already set to retire in Jan. This “trial” was a waste of public funds and didn’t put the “future sheriff on notice that we take all misconduct seriously.” It was all a political hack to waste time, money, and resources to “point prove.” I wonder have many criminal cases get referred to the DA but are not filed due to a furtherance of justice.

    Don’t waste your time trying to understand, and rationalize why things happen at Santa Clara County. Just know they make a 1 billion dollar difference on an 8 billion dollar budget.

  3. Just an observation,


    Instead of dealing with verifiable FACTS, we have nothing but personal attacks. What did that lead up to, oh yes, a hammer to the head.

    Please understand that the law must be enforced, no matter what, which means you can’t get away with a crime or a civil violation simply because you quit.

    Remember her “Retirement” means she would have been paid a pension, with this on the record, she will not receive a penny. That does add up.

    In the end all I hear here is people complaining about people doing their jobs.

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