Embattled Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith retires

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 28: Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith speaks to the media about the 1974 killing of Arlis Perry at the Sheriff's office in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, June 28, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group via Getty Images)

Embattled Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith retired on Halloween after nearly a half-century in law enforcement and as she awaits a verdict in a civil trial against her.

Undersheriff Ken Binder is now the acting sheriff until a new one is elected or appointed by the Board of Supervisors, her office said in a statement.

Smith declined to comment upon her departure, which she announced in March.

"I really owe it to the residents of Santa Clara County not to have this kind of drama ongoing," she told KTVU at the time. "They deserve to have a leader in this position that doesn’t have accusations against them."

Accusations of corruption and criminal misconduct led a civil grand jury last year to indict Smith. 

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo had also sought the ouster of the longest currently tenured California sheriff.

"More than a year ago, I publicly called for Sheriff Laurie Smith to resign, and she has belatedly heeded that call," Liccardo said Monday in a statement. "It remains for the county to rebuild a troubled department and to better address many long-neglected issues, particularly regarding jail oversight. The city of San José stands ready to help."

This month, Smith headed to trial over six civil counts of corruption and willful misconduct involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured. 

Smith is also accused of withholding documents concerning an internal affairs jail investigation and lying on campaign finance forms.

She has denied the allegations. Her attorney, Allen Ruby, declined to comment.

Closing arguments in that case were given last week. The jury has not yet come back with a verdict.