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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.

Deal with St. Louis prosecutors led to Greitens’ resignation

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announces on May 30, 2018, that her office will drop a felony computer-tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announces Wednesday that her office will drop a felony computer tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.

Gov. Eric Greitens’ resignation was part of an agreement reached with prosecutors to dismiss charges that the governor misused a charity donor list during his campaign.

Judge Rex Burlison on Wednesday accepted the deal reached between St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and attorneys for Greitens. The state will not be able to refile the computer tampering charge, but the agreement has no bearing on the decision of a special prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, whether to refile invasion of privacy charges. The governor could also face other state or federal charges.

Gardner in April charged Greitens with computer tampering. Defense attorneys for Greitens contacted her office over the weekend to strike a deal.

“This was not what drove the governor's decision, but it’s one part we had to address,” said Jim Martin, an attorney for the governor. “It was a personal decision.” He would not go into any more details.

The agreement prevents Greitens’ attorneys from suing Gardner or any of her employees in civil court for how she handled the prosecution in this case, and the earlier felony invasion of privacy charge. But it does not rule out the possibility that Gardner could be sanctioned by the court or that she or an investigator she hired, William Tisaby, could be charged with perjury or other crimes in connection with allegations of misconduct during the investigation.

A statement Gardner read to reporters made no mention of the connection between the resignation and the dropping of charges.

“I remain confident that we have the evidence required to pursue charges against Mr. Greitens. But sometimes, pursuing charges is not the right or just thing to do for our city or state,” she said. “Just as I believe the Mr. Greitens’ decision to resign is best for our state, I too, have to consider the totality of the situation. I believe the most fair and just way to resolve this situation is to dismiss the computer tampering charge.”

Martin said a deal to give up an elected office in exchange for the dismissal of criminal matters is unusual, but not unique.

“The politics of this entire circus around Governor Greitens has always been concerning,” he said. “It’s not that often that you have criminal matters that involve high elected officials.”

Attorneys on St. Louis on the Air’s legal roundtable likened it to a lawyer who gives up his bar license as part of a criminal case, “or other, different things that would be for the greater good,” said Mark Smith, an associate vice chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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