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The Jaco Report, Ep. 28: Exclusive interview with Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner says the special prosecutor’s grand jury that disbanded without bringing any charges against her was nothing more than cronyism and an attempt to maintain the status quo against her efforts to reform St. Louis’s criminal justice system.

Appearing on The Jaco Report, Gardner said, “It’s about cronyism and status quo, and when you are a reform-minded prosecutor, and you’re about changing systems, you’re going to have pushback, but pushback in ways that you would never expect.”

The grand jury convened by appointed special prosecutor Gerard Carmody adjourned July 8. And while it did return a perjury indictment against a former FBI agent who had been hired by Gardner’s office, no charges were brought against Gardner herself.

But Carmody, in a written statement, said he would continue to investigate Gardner, grand jury or not, writing, “By law (the grand jury’s) term could not be extended. Notwithstanding the expiration of that Grand Jury’s term, the investigation into possible criminal activity will continue.”

The grand jury was looking into the events surrounding Gardner’s abortive prosecution of then-Gov. Eric Greitens in 2018. Her office eventually dropped invasion of privacy charges against Greitens for allegedly photographing his mistress, against her will, in bondage restraints in the basement of Greitens’ St. Louis home. Greitens eventually resigned after Gardner agreed to drop computer tampering charges, and after the Missouri Legislature threatened to make public the names of dark money donors to Greitens’ campaign.

Gardner hired ex-FBI agent William Tisaby to investigate Greitens. Tisaby was indicted for lying repeatedly during a deposition in the case. Although indictments for lying during a deposition are extremely rare, Carmody’s indictment against Tisaby repeatedly indicates Gardner suborned perjury by coaching Tisaby on his false deposition testimony.

Gardner said she was shocked that a fellow prosecutor would ever issue an indictment like that, saying, “An indictment should not be a 30-page manifesto of misinformation and allegations.”

Carmody’s appointment as a special prosecutor has been widely criticized as a conflict of interest because Carmody, for decades, has been the self-described “best friend” of Greitens’ lead defense attorney, Ed Dowd. Dowd, a former U.S. Attorney in St. Louis, is from a politically well-connected family and was Gardner’s chief legal opponent in the case against Greitens.

Gardner indicated that the “cronyism” of the special prosecutor was part of an effort aimed at her drive to reform the local criminal justice system and to hold “rogue” police officers accountable.

“Some people feel that the system is biased against certain groups of people,” Gardner said, adding, “But one of the things that affects all of the system, even the prosecutor’s office, is the erosion of trust in law enforcement.”

Gardner said that the erosion of trust between large parts of the city’s African-American population and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was directly responsible for increasing violent crime in some areas, and that it was the fault of racist police officers.

“This mistrust of law enforcement erodes the ability of the community to actually thrive,” she said. “People want to be a part of the solution of how we address those crime drivers in our community who prey on our community. But those people are basically paralyzed and afraid to call law enforcement when it’s needed.”

Gardner pointed to the series of racist, bigoted and violent Facebook posts made by current and former city police officers, first revealed by Philadelphia’s Plain View Project, and first reported on with names of officers involved by the Northsider/Southsider.

“Crime is plaguing the community, it’s paralyzing the community,” Gardner said.  “People want to have a relationship with police officers, but they want police officers to respect them like they respect any other person that comes into their community. They want the same respect for their children, their family, that police officers want for their own families.”

Charles Jaco

Charles Jaco is a journalist and author. He has worked for NBC News, CNN, KMOX, KTRS, and Fox 2. He is best known for his coverage of the first Gulf War, and for his "legitimate rape" interview with Senate candidate Todd Akin. He is the winner of three George Foster Peabody Awards, and the author of four books.

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