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May 31, 2023

Santa Clara County Sheriff announces immediate retirement

Undersheriff Ken Binder takes over as acting sheriff

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced Oct. 31 she would retire, effective immediately, 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’s 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.

Running for the office of sheriff in the Nov. 8 election to replace Smith are Kevin Jensen and Robert Jonsen. 

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

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Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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