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Government, Politics & Issues
Gov. Eric Greitens announced in late May that he would resign after facing months of political and legal scandals.The saga started in January, when KMOV released a recording of a woman saying Greitens took a compromising photo of her during a sexual encounter and threatened to blackmail her.A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens in February on felony invasion of privacy. The woman testified to lawmakers that Greitens sexually and physically abused her, spurring bipartisan calls for his resignation or impeachment.The invasion of privacy charge was eventually dropped by St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office following a series of prosecutorial missteps before the trial began. Greitens was also accused of illegally obtaining a donor list from the veterans non-profit he co-founded with his political campaign, but that charge, too, was dismissed as part a deal that led to his resignation as governor.

Greitens attorney on special prosecutor appointment: Fresh "set of eyes" is a good thing

Rep. Stacey Newman (left) and St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce (center) listen to Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker as Baker announces her support for Newman's legislation on February 29, 2016.
File photo I Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, right, speaks at news conference in St. Louis in 2016.

An attorney for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens believes a special prosecutor won’t end up charging the GOP chief executive with any crimes.

This comes as Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has latitude to look beyond whether Greitens took a semi-nude photo of a woman he had an affair with, without her consent.

After St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner last week dropped the invasion of privacy charge against Greitens, she promised to ask for a special prosecutor to handle the case. St. Louis Judge Rex Burlison appointed Baker, a Democratic prosecutor who has been on the job since 2011.

Greitens' attorney Jack Garvey told reporters on Tuesday that once “another set of eyes” looks at the case, that person will “see that there is no evidence of any crime.” 

Jack Garvey, one of Greitens' attorneys, said he's glad St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is no longer involved in one of the governor's pending legal issues.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

“We’re very confident that there will be no more charges,” Garvey said.

With only days before the trial was supposed to start, Gardner never found the semi-nude photo that she said Greitens took — nor was there evidence a photo was sent to the iCloud or a computer. Legal experts say that makes it harder for a prosecutor to prove an invasion of privacy charge.

But Burlison’s order allows Baker to look into "alleged criminal activity in regard to an incident on March 21, 2015.” It also allows Baker to examine “other incidents involving the same victim from that date through September 1, 2015.” That leaves open the possibility that Baker could charge Greitens with something else, especially because the woman told House investigators she faced sexual and physical abuse. Greitens strongly denies those allegations and adds he didn’t break any laws.

When asked if there was any fear Baker would charge Greitens with something other than invasion of privacy, Garvey replied: “The facts are the facts. I mean, that’s it.”

“You can’t get a crime out of something that’s not there,” Garvey said. “I mean there’s always prosecutorial discretion — and we understand that. But that’s it. I don’t think there’s any fear at all. We’re just happy that it’s not in the circuit attorney’s office right now.”

Investigator in the spotlight

Gardner dismissed the case last week after Burlison ruled that she could be called to testify as a witness. An investigator she hired, former FBI agent William Tisaby, allegedly made false statements during a deposition. And because he invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Burlison granted Greitens’ attorneys request to make Gardner a witness instead. 

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner during her oath ceremony on Jan. 6, 2017.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Garvey said that he and other members of Greitens’ legal team plan to call both Tisaby and Gardner as witnesses if Baker files other charges. He also said they’ll be called if Greitens’ felony computer data tampering case moves forward.

“Tisaby is all over this,” Garvey said. “He’s all over in the first case and he’s all over in the second case. He admitted in his deposition that he interviewed and supervised interviews of people involved in the second case. It was clear that he was involved in that case. As much as the circuit attorney wanted to downplay his role, he was all over that case.”

Gardner’s office has said Tisaby played a minor role in the computer data tampering case, where Greitens is accused of improperly obtaining a fundraising list from The Mission Continues. A judge on Tuesday continued that case until July 2.

Garvey said Greitens’ attorneys are seeking to get a special prosecutor in that case as well. He said there will be hearing on that matter next week.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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