Watch CBS News

Santa Clara County Deputies Union Seeks Criminal Investigation Into Sheriff

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- A union representing Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies is seeking a criminal investigation into alleged crimes by Sheriff Laurie Smith while serving on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Operations earlier this year.

The Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Santa Clara County released Friday letters sent within the past week to county District Attorney Jeff Rosen and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

"We believe that Laurie Smith has broken the law and that it is in the public interest for state and local prosecutors to conduct an investigation," union vice president Roger Winslow said in a statement Friday.

Related Stories

The union's accusations against Smith stem from earlier this year when she served on the commission formed in response to the August death of 31-year-old inmate Michael Tyree, who was allegedly beaten by three jail guards at the Main Jail in San Jose.

Smith allegedly had a one-on-one meeting with commission chairwoman and retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell on March 3 when they discussed deputies under investigation, union officials said.

The sheriff also asked for "preferential treatment" from Cordell in the commission's last report to help build up her chances for re-election in 2018, according to the letters.

In late March, the union asked high-level county officials for an investigation into Smith over alleged misuse of county funds and abuse of office, but hasn't heard back as of July 29, according to the letter addressed to Harris.

The union is asking Rosen and Harris to look into whether Smith violated state code by acting for her "political benefit" while working for the county, sharing personnel information with Cordell, using county money or public resources for campaign or personal use and serving in two public offices, one being the commission that was investigating the sheriff's office.

The association is also asking the prosecutors to look into whether Smith influenced the commission for political gain.

In March, Smith said that the allegations were false and she was focused on "meaningful reforms" for the jail system.

"I would've of hoped that instead of slinging mud trying to protect the status quo, the Union Leadership would offer some ideas for improving custody operations. Clearly, the reforms are headed in the right direction if those that want to cling to the past are on the attack," Smith said in March.

Requests for comment from the district attorney's and attorney general's offices weren't immediately returned Friday.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.