Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith indicted for corruption by Civil Grand Jury

The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury indicted Sheriff Laurie Smith this week for willful or corrupt misconduct in office.

The indictment has been called ‘unprecedented’ in legal circles, and includes seven accusations. All but one involve the ongoing investigation around the alleged exchange of concealed weapons permits for campaign contributions that has rocked the Bay Area over the past 18 months. The final count involved the Sheriff’s alleged withholding of information from the Sheriff’s Office’s internal affairs investigation around the 2018 incident involving Andrew Hogan while in custody.

The counts include:

  1. Implementing a policy granting concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits to VIPs including campaign donors, Sheriff’s Advisory Board members, prominent individuals and personal connections;
  2. Failing to investigate and determine good cause for issuing CCW permits to non-VIPs;
  3. Failing to notify non-VIPs about the status of their CCW application, including keeping applications pending indefinitely;
  4. Accepting an unlawful gift in 2019 of the use of a SAP Center suite for a Sharks hockey game, including tickets and suite food and beverage, collectively exceeding the maximum individual gift value limit;
  5. Failing to report the gift in count 4 on her 2019 Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700);
  6. Committing perjury in certifying that her 2019 Form 700 was true and complete;
  7. Failing to cooperate and promptly provide records relating to the investigation around a jail incident in August 2018 regarding Andrew Hogan.

In late August, the County Board of Supervisors issued a unanimous ‘no confidence’ vote against Sheriff Smith around the same circumstances, and directed staff to submit the resolution for investigation to the Civil Grand Jury, as well as the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the California State Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The week prior, Mayor Sam Liccardo joined several Supervisors in calling for the resignation of Sheriff Smith over the same allegations. In a subsequent press conference, Sheriff Smith welcomed the investigation, suggested expanding its scope to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and methodically addressed the allegations against her.

Sheriff Smith is due to appear in court on January 14, 2022 to answer the accusation.