News

Sheriff Laurie Smith resigns amid corruption trial

Embattled sheriff leaves as jury contemplates her role in mismanaging jails, engaging in 'pay-for-play' schemes for gun permits

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith takes questions from reporters on Aug. 17, 2021, while her jail staff looks on. Photo by Sue Dremann.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced Monday she would retire, as a jury deliberates a verdict in a civil corruption trial involving jail mismanagement and a "pay-to-play" scheme involving gun permits issued by her office.

Undersheriff Ken Binder will take over as acting sheriff, Smith office said in a brief release.

Misconduct allegations against Smith by a Santa Clara County civil grand jury include doling out concealed carry licenses to campaign donors, and of accepting San Jose Sharks tickets and not reporting them as gifts.

Smith, whose civil trial began in September, has denied the claims. A guilty verdict on any of the charges results in removal from office and a ban on running for public office.

Smith started with the sheriff's office in 1973 and has been sheriff for the last 24 years.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Earlier this year, Smith announced she wouldn't run for reelection and would retire at the end of her term in January.

In a letter to the community in March, she called criticism of her tenure as "specious attempts by unsavory political opponents in retribution for serving the public with honor."

Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs' Association President Ryan Elder said in a statement that the organization supported Smith's decision and looked forward to "turning the page and moving our department forward."

"We acknowledge her decades of service, and we certainly hope new leadership will restore some of the confidence in our department that has been tarnished throughout this sordid episode."

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also looked to the department's future in a statement on Smith's retirement and noted that he initially called for her resignation in August 2021 due to reports of jail mismanagement and alleged civil rights violations.

Liccardo is termed out as mayor and voters will choose his successor during the Nov. 8 election.

"It remains for the county to rebuild a troubled department and to better address many long-neglected issues, particularly regarding jail oversight," he said. "The city of San Jose stands ready to help."

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Get uninterrupted access to important local law enforcement news. Become a member today.

Sheriff Laurie Smith resigns amid corruption trial

Embattled sheriff leaves as jury contemplates her role in mismanaging jails, engaging in 'pay-for-play' schemes for gun permits

by Bay City News Service /

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 1:48 pm

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced Monday she would retire, as a jury deliberates a verdict in a civil corruption trial involving jail mismanagement and a "pay-to-play" scheme involving gun permits issued by her office.

Undersheriff Ken Binder will take over as acting sheriff, Smith office said in a brief release.

Misconduct allegations against Smith by a Santa Clara County civil grand jury include doling out concealed carry licenses to campaign donors, and of accepting San Jose Sharks tickets and not reporting them as gifts.

Smith, whose civil trial began in September, has denied the claims. A guilty verdict on any of the charges results in removal from office and a ban on running for public office.

Smith started with the sheriff's office in 1973 and has been sheriff for the last 24 years.

Earlier this year, Smith announced she wouldn't run for reelection and would retire at the end of her term in January.

In a letter to the community in March, she called criticism of her tenure as "specious attempts by unsavory political opponents in retribution for serving the public with honor."

Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs' Association President Ryan Elder said in a statement that the organization supported Smith's decision and looked forward to "turning the page and moving our department forward."

"We acknowledge her decades of service, and we certainly hope new leadership will restore some of the confidence in our department that has been tarnished throughout this sordid episode."

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also looked to the department's future in a statement on Smith's retirement and noted that he initially called for her resignation in August 2021 due to reports of jail mismanagement and alleged civil rights violations.

Liccardo is termed out as mayor and voters will choose his successor during the Nov. 8 election.

"It remains for the county to rebuild a troubled department and to better address many long-neglected issues, particularly regarding jail oversight," he said. "The city of San Jose stands ready to help."

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.