2020-03-05 -Land of the Free
Missouri case that toppled GOP governor Eric Greitens boomerangs on Soros-backed prosecutor
[JustTheNews] St. Louis circuit attorney faces grand jury probe, chief investigator indicted in echoes of Trump-Russia collusion reversal in Washington.
Kimberly Gardner made history in 2016, roaring to an election victory as St. Louis city’s first African-American chief prosecutor on a campaign funded heavily by the liberal mega-donor George Soros. Four years later, she finds herself under investigation and her chief investigator already indicted for a prosecution gone bad, one that forced Missouri’s Republican governor to resign in what some now believe may have been a political attack.
Gardner, a Democrat and the city’s circuit attorney, was forced in 2018 to withdraw her indictment accusing Gov. Eric Greitens of felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a picture of his scantily clad girlfriend and threatening to release it if she talked about their affair. Gardner’s office dropped the charge after admitting she did not have proof of the photo or its transmission.
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Investigators now allege the Greitens prosecution, which forced the governor to resign less than two years into his tenure, was built on lies that included perjury and hiding exculpatory evidence that would have helped demonstrate Greitens' innocence, court documents show.
Most significantly, testimony transcripts and court records obtained by Just the News show the woman Gardner built her case around, beautician Katrina Sneed, testified she was asked unsolicited by Gardner’s office to come forward as a witness and that she was actually reluctant to accuse Greitens because the entire story of a photo on his mobile phone may have been a dream.
“And at any point where you were in the basement with E.G. (Eric Greitens) at his home, did you see what you believed to be a phone?” Sneed was asked during an April 6, 2018 pretrial deposition with defense lawyers.
Sneed answered: “So not that’s like a very vivid memory which is the reason why I haven’t talked about it because I don’t know if it’s because I’m remembering it through a dream or I — I’m not sure, but yes, I feel like I saw it after that happened, but I haven’t spoken about it because of that.”
The magnitude of alleged holes and potential misconduct in the case that Gardner brought against Greitens have been laid bare in subsequent court filings, which include a seven-count felony indictment against Gardner's chief investigator in the case, William Tisaby.
The new evidence has not only engulfed her office in controversy; it has also drawn comparisons in Washington to the Russia collusion allegations against President Trump that were leaked and investigated, only to be debunked after a nearly three-year drama.
“Ms. Gardner tampered with the integrity of the grand jury and our judicial system by feloniously causing an indictment of a man for whom she did not have the evidence,” said Dwight Warren, who worked for 40 years as a prosecutor in the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office before he was fired by Gardner in 2017. “If the system is to command the respect of its citizens, they need to trust their prosecutor to be fair.”
Warren turned the tables on his former boss after his firing, writing an explosive op-ed in spring 2018 that declared there was no basis for Gardner’s indictment of Greitens. His prediction proved true within a few months.
Gardner to date has not been charged with wrongdoing and has steadfastly denied she engaged in any misconduct, even as the city police and a special prosecutor have charged her former investigator in the case, the ex-FBI agent Tisaby, with six counts of perjury and one count of evidence tampering in the Greitens case. Tisaby has pleaded innocent. His lawyer, Jermaine Wooten, did not immediately return a call seeking comment but has said previously his client is "absolutely 100 percent innocent" and a victim of discrimination.
Gardner has been ordered to appear before the grand jury, and is listed as a potential witness in Tisaby’s criminal trial later this month.
Facts disclosed in the Tisaby indictment suggest Gardner herself was complicit in his wrongdoing by staying silent while Tisaby allegedly lied. For instance, the special prosecutors alleged that when Tisaby falsely denied during a March 2018 pretrial deposition in the Greitens case that there was a functioning videotape of the Sneed interview, Gardner did not correct him even as she questioned him.
“There is no recording of this interview?,” Tisaby was asked by Gardner. “None whatsoever,” he answered.
Tisaby's indictment declared that Gardner's office had videotaped the sessions and she "failed to disclose the fact for several months."
Prosecutors say a functioning videotape was found in Gardner’s office, and the camera had not malfunctioned as had been claimed, according to the Tisaby indictment.
The Greitens case isn’t the only controversy impacting Gardner: More than 70 prosecutors in her office have been fired or forced to quit and dozens of St. Louis police officers have been banned from testifying in court. She also was fined more than $60,000 for campaign finance violations. After signing a plea deal, Gardner issued a statement blaming clerical errors for the campaign violations and accusing a "Republican political operative" for filing the complaint against her.
Gardner claims she is a victim of her efforts to clean up what she says is a dirty and racist law enforcement system in St. Louis, going so far as to file a lawsuit against the city earlier this year under a law created to fight the Ku Klux Klan back in 1871.
Greitens says he believes he was forced to give up his governorship for allegations that were unsubstantiated at best, and outright false at worst. While he admits an extramarital affair with Sneed, he has always denied Gardner's charge.
The rollercoaster experience has given Greitens thoughts of running again to reclaim the governorship, though those plans are on hold. A former Navy SEAL, Greitens nonetheless has been able to claim vindication recently.
Earlier this month, the Missouri Ethics Commission cleared Greitens of charges lodged against him during the height of the scandal that he had violated campaign finance laws. The commission “found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens” but fined his campaign for two reporting violations.
"It's good to have been exonerated. I'm glad that the truth is coming out,” Greitens told Just the News, comparing his plight to that of Trump during the Russia collusion case. “All Americans need to know that the left and deep state insiders engaged in a criminal effort to overturn the 2016 election."
This tale of political intrigue and problematic prosecution dates back to spring 2016, when Gardner ran for St. Louis Circuit Attorney and won, a popular African-American rising to power as the city’s chief prosecutor in the aftermath of the racially tinged police shooting in nearby Ferguson, Mo.
Soros, one of the largest liberal benefactors in history, donated $630,000 that year to a political action committee called Safety and Justice Committee. That super PAC in turn donated more than $204,000 as an in-kind donation to Gardner’s election. Soros’ support accounted for about two-thirds of her total campaign donations of nearly $300,000, according to a post-election filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Gardner’s platform of criminal justice reform to help minorities proved a nice fit for Team Soros.
Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, declined comment on Gardner and the Missouri controversy.
Greitens stunned the Missouri establishment in November 2016 by capturing the governorship. And quickly he set out to make good on his promises, which included cutting back a low-income housing program that awarded tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s politically connected.
The storm clouds officially formed the day after Greitens delivered his second State of the State address in January 2018. That’s when Gardner announced that she was opening a criminal investigation into the governor about his extramarital affair with Sneed, which Greitens had just admitted to publicly.
Gardner claimed she was opening the probe that day solely because she wanted to determine if any criminality was involved during the affair, which began in 2015 before Greitens was elected.
Evidence that has emerged in recent months conflicts with Gardner's claim, indicating she had opened the investigation weeks earlier on Dec. 22, 2017, according to a computer time stamp on the actual indictment. Gardner's decision-making in the case immediately drew questions.
Instead of choosing an investigator from the local police or her own office, Gardner hired outside investigative help. One of Gardner’s former classmates from St. Louis University Law School recommended Tisaby to Gardner. Tisaby didn’t even live in Missouri. He co-founded Enterra, an investigative company, based in Rochester, Mich., according to Tisaby’s indictment.
Warren, the former prosecutor, said Tisaby’s hiring was unprecedented. “Not once has a private investigator ever been hired in all the years I was employed there,” he told Just the News. Tisaby's indictment called Gardner's hiring of the ex-FBI agent "contrary to normal protocol."
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