EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Laurie Smith following SCC sheriff resignation amid corruption trial

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: I-Team speaks with ex-SCC sheriff after resignation
The I-Team's Dan Noyes was the only reporter to question the former Santa Clara County sheriff following her resignation amid a corruption trial.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Santa Clara County Sheriff resigned her office Monday, amid a pay-to-play corruption trial. Laurie Smith was the first female sheriff in the state and her long tenure is now over in a cloud of scandal. I-Team reporter Dan Noyes was the only reporter to question the former sheriff at superior court in San Jose.

The lawyer for the sheriff moved to have the case thrown out late Monday afternoon, while the jury still works to reach a verdict.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith informed the Board of Supervisors in this one-line letter that she was leaving office effective Monday.

Just two hours later, the I-Team's Dan Noyes questioned her about the decision, as she entered Superior Court for her corruption trial.

Noyes: "Why not serve the rest of your term?"

Smith: "Because they'll be a new sheriff coming in and actually in November will be the new selection."

Noyes: "The trial didn't affect your decision to resign?"

Smith: "No, I'm hoping for a verdict today."

This civil trial could remove her from office, but Smith could face criminal charges involving the same issues - accusations that she provided concealed carry weapons permits in exchange for political donations or other favors.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen released a statement that reads in part, "The 2 million people of this county need and deserve a great sheriff. Our focus is, has been, and will be on the fair and effective management of the criminal Justice system. No one is above it and no one will stand in its way."

EXCLUSIVE: Santa Clara Co. Sheriff's boyfriend testifies in her corruption trial

Gary Bechtel said that he, his son, and two other relatives acquired concealed carry permits that were signed by Sheriff Smith.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo weighed in.

"More than a year ago, I publicly called for Sheriff Laurie Smith to resign, and she has belatedly heeded that call. It remains for the County to rebuild a troubled department," he said.

And the leading candidate for her job, Kevin Jensen told the ABC7 News I-Team, "It's the right decision made 2 or 3 terms too late. ... abused power and trust may give temporary gain, but eventually lead to pain and a bitter end."

The jury wrapped up Monday without reaching a verdict. The court is dark Tuesday and back at it Wednesday, with the two sides arguing if the case should now be dismissed because Smith is no longer sheriff.

VIDEO: Santa Clara County sheriff dodges I-Team questions about bribery scandal

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith called a news conference, one day after San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo demanded that she resign. But, Smith didn't address that issue until the I-Team's Dan Noyes asked her.

Take a look at for a look at more stories by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.

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