Judge deciding if special prosecutor can exit Tisaby case

A St. Louis judge has said he’ll decide by the end of next week whether to allow the special prosecutor to withdraw from the perjury and evidence tampering case against William Don Tisaby, a former FBI agent hired by St. Louis’ top prosecutor to investigate former Gov. Eric Greitens

St. Louis Prosecutor
St. Louis Prosecutor

A St. Louis judge said Thursday that he’ll decide by the end of next week whether to allow the special prosecutor to withdraw from the perjury and evidence tampering case against William Don Tisaby, a former FBI agent hired by St. Louis’ top prosecutor to investigate former Gov. Eric Greitens

Judge Bryan Hettenbach also will decide no later than July 2 on a motion from attorneys for Tisaby that seeks a sanction of Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody. Tisaby's attorneys accused Carmody of failing to turn over evidence, which Carmody denied.

Tisaby, 68, is accused of lying in a March 2018 deposition just before Greitens' criminal trial. Greitens, a Republican was governor at the time.

Carmody filed a motion in May to exit the case. He told Hettenbach during a hearing Thursday that because of other issues with his law firm, “I can no longer serve as special prosecutor in this case.”

Tisaby's attorney, Daniel Dailey, urged the judge to toss out the case. If a new special prosecutor is appointed, it will take that person time to get up to speed, further delaying Tisaby's trial, he said.

“How much longer will he have to wait for his day in court?” Dailey asked.

Greitens was indicted on felony invasion of privacy in February 2018 for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman during a 2015 extramarital affair, before he was governor, and threatening to use it as blackmail if she ever spoke of their relationship. The charge was dropped in the midst of jury selection, but Greitens resigned in June 2018.

Greitens admitted to the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing. Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner hired Tisaby to investigate Greitens. Her handling of the case and Tisaby's investigation drew condemnation from the former governor's attorneys and prompted the investigation.

The seven-count indictment accused Tisaby of lying during a deposition. It alleged that Tisaby denied taking notes during his interview of the woman who was involved with Greitens, although a recording of the interview showed him doing so. The indictment also said that while Tisaby claimed he didn’t receive notes from the prosecutor’s office before interviewing the woman, a document uncovered during grand jury proceedings shows Gardner provided Tisaby her notes.

The indictment also raised concerns about whether Gardner was complicit in his alleged crimes, saying she failed to correct Tisaby’s inaccuracies or report them, and that she made incorrect statements to defense lawyers and a judge.

Greitens also faced a second criminal charge in April 2018, accusing him of using a donor list from the charity he founded, The Mission Continues, to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. During the hearing Thursday, Dailey said it was Tisaby who uncovered the donor list. Dailey said, without naming names in court, that the list includes clients of Carmody's law firm.

“Mr. Tisaby will prove that's the reason he was indicted,” Dailey said.

That claim drew an angry response from Carmody.

“I don't even have any idea what donor list he's talking about,” Carmody told the judge. “The fact of the matter is, there's not a scintilla of truth."

Gardner's role in the Greitens investigation also is under scrutiny from the Missouri office in charge of overseeing lawyers' professional conduct.

Alan Pratzel, Missouri’s chief disciplinary counsel, said in a court filing in May that a review indicated Gardner concealed evidence that could have helped Greitens. A hearing to determine if Gardner should be disciplined is planned but no date has been set.

Earlier Thursday, about three dozen supporters of Gardner rallied outside the courthouse. Many speakers said Gardner, the city's first Black female circuit attorney, was targeted because of her race.

“What is happening is another form of lynching — legal lynching,” activist Zaki Baruti said.

Greitens, meanwhile, is back in politics. He announced in March that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

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