The movement continues at the Macomb prosecutor’s office – Macomb Daily
Macomb County District Attorney Pete Lucido has appointed the longtime deputy principal of a former Democratic county clerk as acting deputy chief, albeit on a temporary basis.
Lucido, a Republican, transferred Democrat Todd Schmitz from his post as union-protected deputy prosecutor to become his chief deputy, a political post at will. Schmitz was for many years the chief deputy to former Clerk Carmella Sabaugh, who retired in 2016.
The move was necessitated by the surprise resignation of office manager Jen Meech, who has been touted as an invaluable employee, especially in the past 16 months following the resignation of former prosecutor Eric Smith. Meech, whose last day was Tuesday, is transferred to another post in the county government at Macomb Community Action. She had worked for the prosecution for 10 years, including about four years as an office manager following the retirement of Shelly Gilray.
Schmitz started the new position on Wednesday and is expected to hold the position until August 20, Lucido said Wednesday.
“We are trying to move forward – due to Jen Meech moving to another county in the county – to make sure we don’t have the laspe in the services and the quality of service that we intend. to provide here to the Macomb County District Attorney’s office, “said Lucido, who took office Jan. 1.
Macomb Democrats chairman Ed Bruley said he was not surprised Schmitz was in office despite the lack of partisan alignment with his boss.
“Todd is a great administrator and a very creative person,” said Bruley. “I don’t find it strange because Todd is a great administrator and will play his role and do it legally and serve the people of Macomb County. He won’t play politics in the DA’s office.
The assistant attorneys’ union, the Police Officers Association of Michigan, questioned the move, but human resources director Andrew McKinnon said the union contract allows it.
On his Facebook page and that of the DA’s office, Lucido posted a photo of himself with Meech and wrote: “She did a fantastic job, juggling many tasks under difficult circumstances and she did it well! I will miss her! Our staff will miss her! She is truly a professional!
The move follows Lucido’s attempt last month to fire longtime deputy prosecutor William Cataldo, who served as homicide chief for around 15 years.
Cataldo bumped into Derek Miller, the former COO who is on paid suspension and is a member of the same supervisors union. Cataldo continues to receive his higher administrative salary, but is given the duties of a basic deputy prosecutor, mainly dealing with misdemeanor cases at Shelby Township 41A District Court.
Milller then exercised his bumping rights, but with Meech’s departure, bumping became moot. Still, Lucido has decided not to bring back Miller, who is charged with two felonies in the context of Smith’s criminal case.
Since Schmitz is his politically appointed person, Lucido can assign whatever tasks he wants to Schmitz, who should do the payroll and budgeting tasks Meech was handling.
Schmitz was working on assignments and undergoing training while dealing with the challenges of the parole board.
Schmitz’s loss to the deputy prosecutors unit has exacerbated an already growing problem of staff shortages within the office, especially among deputy prosecutors. Lucido complained about the need for more staff to the county executive, Mark Hackel, and the county council of commissioners. During his first months in office, he asked for some $ 900,000 to hire several people.
The office is supposed to have nearly 60 deputy prosecutors, but several have left in the past three months, and none of the positions have been filled. Two longtime deputy prosecutors are retiring soon. The total staff is around 110.
To help manage the caseload, Lucido enlisted former Macomb deputy attorney Joe McCarthy and Dave Portuesi, paid by a government grant, to work in district courts for six months.
Lucido has said for months that he was considering hiring James Langtry as his chief assistant, but did not. Langtry is the former COO and chief of staff who testified against Smith and Miller on July 13 during Smith’s preliminary examination in Clinton Township 41B District Court.
Langtry retired in January 2020 but was rehired part-time a month later. But he was fired by then-acting prosecutor Jean Cloud, a month after Smith was indicted and resigned within days of each other in March 2020.
The evidentiary hearing for Smith, who is charged with 10 felonies for allegedly mis-spending public money, is scheduled to continue on August 16.
Smith’s longtime former chief of staff Ben Liston, who has been charged with multiple felonies for spending public money on personal expenses, agreed to testify against Smith in exchange for a reduction in charges to three misdemeanors.
Schmitz, who holds a temporary position in the supervisor group, receives a higher rate of pay, based on an annual salary of approximately $ 123,000, up from his previous salary of between $ 105,000 and 112 $ 000.