Updated at 4 p.m., June 18 with calls from Gardner's supporters to end the gag order on the case. — A former FBI agent hired by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to help in the criminal investigation of then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is now facing charges himself.
A grand jury indictment made public on Monday charged William Tisaby with seven felony counts, including multiple perjury charges. His conduct during the investigation was a factor in prosecutors dropping the felony invasion of privacy charge against the governor.
The indictment also says Gardner knew about Tisaby’s conduct and did not report it to police or correct it. A spokeswoman for Gardner said the office remained under a gag order and would not comment on the indictment.
Tisaby pleaded not guilty to all seven charges. Bond had originally been set at $70,000, but a judge on Monday allowed Tisaby to be released on a promise to show up for court dates — although he will have to surrender his passport and check in with a private probation officer every two weeks.
A special prosecutor, Gerard Carmody, presented the evidence to the grand jury. He was appointed nearly a year ago at the request of the police department because of concerns that Gardner could not fairly investigate herself.
Gardner fought Carmody’s appointment as special prosecutor all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court. A spokeswoman said the office could not comment because of a gag order issued in the case.
Carmody, and an attorney for Tisaby, as well as Greitens’ attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Supporters of Gardner and Tisaby gathered outside the Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis on Tuesday to call for an end to the gag order in the case. Local NAACP leader Adolphus Pruitt said Gardner deserves a chance to explain her side of the story.
“The city and the public and everybody who has a case being prosecuted by this prosecutor deserve to know all of the facts surrounding this,” Pruitt said. “Lift the gag order.”
Also Tuesday, Gardner sent out a press release saying she reported to police alleged threats against her by members of the Greitens defense team during the Greitens proceedings, but the report was not investigated. However, police did investigate allegations against Tisaby. She called for a special prosecutor to look into the handling of her complaints.
Gardner hired Tisaby in January 2018, just days after Greitens admitted that he had an affair with his hairdresser, a woman identified by her initials K.S. The former governor would later be charged with invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a semi-nude picture of K.S. without her consent, and then transferring it in a way that it could be accessed by a computer.
Gardner said she needed to hire an outside investigator because the St. Louis Police Department refused to look into the case. The department says it was never asked to investigate.
The indictment charges Tisaby with lying six different times during a March 19, 2018, deposition with Greitens’ defense attorneys. Gardner attended the deposition, which took place at the circuit attorney’s office.
- Tisaby claimed that he did not get any information from the circuit attorney’s office about the Greitens case before he interviewed K.S. on Jan. 29, 2018. Evidence presented to the grand jury showed that Gardner and Tisaby exchanged multiple calls, text messages and emails, and that Gardner sent Tisaby multiple documents, including notes from an interview she had done with K.S. “Gardner never attempted to correct this false testimony,” the indictment reads.
- Tisaby initially claimed that he had taken notes during his interview of K.S., then changed his story when defense attorneys pressed him to turn over those notes. Video of that interview, for which Gardner was present, later showed that Tisaby had been taking notes. “Although Gardner was seated next to Tisaby at the Second Interview (while he was taking notes), Garnder nonetheless had Tisaby reaffirm that no notes were taken at the interview.” A footnote to the indictment says Gardner’s statements about her own notes from that January interview were also inconsistent.
- Tisaby told defense attorneys that he had used a lunch break to search for drafts of notes related to the Greitens investigation, then later admitted that he had not brought his laptop to St. Louis. He also claimed that he did not talk to Gardner during the break, but records revealed he called Gardner at least seven times during the two-hour break. Gardner, who was present for the deposition, did not attempt to correct Tisaby, the indictment says.
- Tisaby said the notes of the interview with K.S. that he eventually provided to defense attorneys were direct quotes of what K.S. said in that interview. In fact, the indictment says, Tisaby’s report was actually notes that Gardner had provided him. He also allegedly left out several pieces of information, and included quotes that K.S. never said.
- Tisaby claimed he did not ask K.S. any questions in the interview. Video evidence, the indictment said, shows otherwise. “Again, Gardner made no effort to correct this testimony even though she sat by Tisaby’s side as he asked those questions.”
- Tisaby said in his deposition that he did not attempt to find experts who could locate the picture at the center of the case, a photo that never turned up. The grand jury said Tisaby, Gardner and other officials in her office had actually contacted an Ohio company for help.
Tisaby is also accused of evidence tampering for allegedly keeping several documents from defense attorneys.
According to the contract, Tisaby and his Michigan-based company, Enterra, were paid $250 an hour to “provide consulting advice to [the circuit attorney’s office] to the extent requested, conduct an independent investigation into potential criminal (and civil) liability of the governor under the guidance of the CAO,” and to testify at any trial as needed.
But Tisaby became a legal liability for the prosecution. Greitens’ attorneys filed several motions accusing Tisaby of lying about the way he had conducted interviews with several key witnesses, including K.S. They even sought to have the judge dismiss the charge over the allegations.
Gardner’s former chief trial assistant Robert Dierker, now an attorney for the city of St. Louis, admitted in court that Tisaby had created a “terrible appearance,” and that relying on the investigator was “an egregious mistake.” Though Judge Rex Burlison decided not to dismiss the case, he ordered Tisaby to appear for a second deposition. The investigator would refuse to answer questions, citing his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Dierker, who is identified in the indictment documents by his initials, R.D., reportedly planned to tell the police department about the perjury allegations but was directed not to by Gardner.
Greitens’ defense team also accused Gardner of allowing Tisaby to lie under oath by not correcting him when he claimed, among other things, that he did not take notes during key interviews. She had been in the room for several of his interviews. She has not been charged.
Prosecutors dropped the invasion of privacy case against Greitens after Burlison ruled defense attorneys could call Gardner as a witness to testify about Tisaby’s conduct. Gardner said if she had to testify, her office couldn’t prosecute the case.
Greitens eventually struck a deal with Gardner in which he resigned in exchange for her office dropping a separate charge that he had misused a charity donor list for his campaign. The agreement prevented Greitens or his attorneys from suing Gardner or any of her employees in civil court for how she handled both the donor list and invasion of privacy cases.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann
Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org