St. Louis, MO – Seven members of a special grand jury who indicted one of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s investigators in 2018 are urging the state disciplinary board to take stronger action against the prosecutor.
The circuit attorney hired an investigator named William Tisaby to verify accusations that now-former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens had taken semi-naked pictures of his lover and transmitted them electronically.
But Gardner later ended up dropping the charges against Greitens after questions were raised about her investigator’s conduct during the investigation, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
Police asked the judge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of perjury against Tisaby.
St. Louis attorney Gerard Carmody took the case to a grand jury, St. Louis Public Radio reported.
The grand jury indicted Tisaby on multiple counts of perjury and evidence tampering in 2018 in connection with the investigation of Greitens, the Associated Press reported.
Tisaby ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor this March.
Meanwhile, the circuit attorney who hired Tisaby appeared set to get off with barely a slap on the wrist.
Although the same grand jury did not opt to bring an indictment against Gardner, the circuit attorney was under investigation and the grand jurors said they thought the Missouri Office of Disciplinary Counsel would take action against her.
On April 20, seven grand jury signed a letter attached to an email to Judge Rex Burlison, who presided over the case against Greitens, and expressed their displeasure with the joint stipulation agreement between Gardner and the disciplinary counsel, the Associated Press reported.
“During our eight months of Special Grand Jury service, our investigation resulted in the indictment of an individual who was very closely associated with Ms. Gardner,” the grand jurors wrote. “Our work exposed us to activity and behaviors in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office that we considered re disturbing and certainly unethical.”
“What we observed was not inadvertent nor inconsequential but was calculated deceit and/or outright incompetence; neither of which is acceptable behavior for a person holding this public office,” the letter continued.
“The individual we indicted was accused of many crimes, however, he was a private citizen. In our opinion, Ms. Gardner’s offenses were markedly worse,” the grand jurors wrote. “As a lawyer sworn to uphold the law and as a public servant voted to the city’s highest prosecutorial office, her behavior should be beyond reproach. Yet her disregard for the law, as detailed in both the Special Grand Jury indictment as well as in the ethics charges, is reprehensible.”
“Our assignment as jurors was to investigate the indicted but our efforts revealed Ms. Gardner’s illegal prosecutorial misconduct to the point that we believed her actions were was likely indictable as well,” the letter read. “The fact that an ethics review was pending suggested gave us hope that Ms. Gardner would indeed face severe and appropriate consequences.”
Critics complained about how long it took for the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel to take action on Gardner but Washington University School of Law Professor Peter Joy said that office is historically reluctant to interfere during elections and Gardner was running for re-election in 2020, KMOV reported.
Gardner and the disciplinary counsel reached a joint stipulation agreement at the start of her disciplinary hearing in April, the Associated Press reported.
The circuit attorney conceded that she had failed to produce documents and mistakenly claimed that Greitens’ lawyers had gotten everything when they had not.
The agreement said Gardner’s conduct “was negligent or perhaps reckless, but not intentional,” and recommended she receive only a written reprimand, the Associated Press reported.
The Missouri Supreme Court will ultimately determine what, if any, punishment will be meted out to Gardner and the grand jurors the court to crack down on Gardner.
Gardner’s office released a statement in response to the release of the grand juror’s letter, KMOV reported.
“The St. Louis Circuit Attorney has cooperated fully from the outset,” the statement read. “We appreciate that the Office of Disciplinary Council conducted a fair and thorough process, and we expect the stipulation agreed to by all parties will soon become final.”