Jan Smith, who was Lancaster County’s top prosecutor, had negotiated an agreement for John Randolph Hooper to serve one year in jail after pleading guilty in the August 2017 death of 31-year-old Graham McCormick.
A Virginia State Bar subcommittee concluded Smith violated rules of professional conduct when he discussed the deal with McCormick’s family and “wrongfully and inaccurately” suggested that the judge overseeing the case had prejudged it, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. McCormick’s family believed the deal was too lenient.
The subcommittee said Smith violated rules against knowingly making a false statement of fact or law. A disciplinary hearing has not been scheduled yet. Smith could face suspension or revocation of his law license if the charges are proved.
Smith lost a November election after one term as the county’s top prosecutor. He has 21 days to respond to the subcommittee’s findings.
McCormick’s body was found floating in a creek off the Rappahannock River. The state medical examiner concluded that McCormick’s death was caused by drowning and that blunt-force trauma was a contributing factor.
McCormick and Hooper, a college friend, were intoxicated when they went for a ride in a boat that crashed into a bulkhead, according to evidence provided during a plea hearing. Hooper, 34, of Richmond, was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to render aid.