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Second special prosecutor appointed over Greitens case

JIM SALTER
1 / 2

St. Louis Prosecutor

FILE - In this May 23, 2017, file photo, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to supporters during a rally outside the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. A judge on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, appointed a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that attorneys for former Gov. Greitens threatened to "ruin" St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner last year if she didn't back off in a criminal investigation of Greitens. Gardner charged Greitens with a crime connected to an extramarital affair. The charge was dropped but Greitens resigned in June 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Last year's criminal case involving Missouri's former governor is under the scrutiny of a second special prosecutor, this time to investigate allegations from St. Louis' prosecutor.

Presiding St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Tuesday appointed retired Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Michael Bradley to investigate allegations against Eric Greitens' attorneys from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. She alleged that Greitens' attorneys threatened to "ruin" her last year if she didn't back off the investigation of the former Republican governor.

Gardner charged Greitens with invasion of privacy in February 2018 for allegedly taking a compromising and unauthorized photo of a woman during an extramarital affair. The charge was later dropped but Greitens resigned in June 2018.

The appointment is the latest move in a long-running battle between Gardner and the Greitens defense team.

Gardner, a Democrat, told The Associated Press in a 2018 interview that several of Greitens' lawyers came to her office in March 2018 to try to persuade her to drop the case. "Basically they told me I would be ruined personally, professionally, and it's only going to get worse," she said at the time.

Scott Rosenblum, one of Greitens' attorneys, disputed Gardner's claims.

"Her action is an embarrassingly lame politically motivated move designed to deflect from her egregiously unethical conduct in the case," Rosenblum told The Associated Press via email Tuesday. "Despite being faced with repeated lies and the manipulation of evidence the defense team handled itself above reproach. Only one lawyer involved in the case was advised to 'seek counsel and that her words were to be treated as under oath and on the record 'by the judge. That was Ms. Gardner. "

Gardner said in a statement Tuesday that she is pleased that a special prosecutor has been assigned, though said in June her office had recommended a different candidate with no personal ties to Greitens or the matter.

"It's critical that this matter gets an objective and independent review ... We encourage the community to continue to review the facts, scrutinize the process and identify close relationships with firms, judges, and individuals in this case to determine the objectivity and fairness of the special prosecutor," Gardener said in the statement.

Meanwhile, a separate special prosecutor appointed over issues raised by Greitens' attorneys indicted an investigator hired by Gardner, William Tisaby, for perjury last month. That investigation continues .

The indictment of Tisaby, a former FBI agent, accused him of lying during a deposition. He denied any wrongdoing.

The Tisaby indictment 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 herself made incorrect statements to defense lawyers and a judge. She said she did nothing illegal or unethical.

Earlier this month, a group of about three dozen of the region's black leaders stood behind Gardner during a news conference as a show of support. Some alleged that the allegations against her were racially motivated.

Gardner, elected in 2016, is St. Louis' first black circuit attorney.