St. Louis judge to decide whether special prosecutor can withdraw from Tisaby case

Former FBI agent charged with perjury and evidence tampering during 2018 investigation of Eric Greitens

By: - June 25, 2021 5:55 am

Local activist Zaki Baruti leads a rally to support St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gardner on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse Thursday June 24, 2021. Several civil rights, faith-based, and community organizations that make up the Community Justice Coalition attended. (Photo by Wiley Price / St. Louis American)

A St. Louis circuit judge on Thursday heard attorney Gerard Carmody’s motion to withdraw as the special prosecutor in the case of an ex-FBI agent charged with perjury and evidence tampering during the 2018 criminal investigation of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. 

Judge Bryan Hettenbach will decide whether to allow Carmody to step away from the prosecution of William Tisaby, who was hired to assist in the Greitens investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

“We have other pressing matters currently scheduled in the coming months and they all need substantial attention,” Carmody said in a statement.

Carmody said it has been nearly two years since a St. Louis grand jury indicted Tisaby on multiple perjury charges “and a trial date has not yet been rescheduled.” 

Tisaby’s attorneys said they are anxious to get a trial date as well, but claim Carmody hasn’t communicated whether or not he’s provided all the evidence to the defense. 

Tisaby filed a motion last August to sanction Carmody for not providing transcripts of the grand jury process and emails of legal opinions they sought out in the case. The motion requested that the case be dismissed as part of the sanction against Carmody. 

Carmody told the judge Thursday that he has now provided Tisaby’s attorneys with everything he has.

Daniel Dailey, one of Tisaby’s attorneys, opposed Carmody’s motion to withdraw because Tisaby has already spent three years waiting for his day in court. It’s unfair to taxpayers who have already paid almost $400,000 to Carmody for his legal services, Dailey said, and finding a new special prosecutor would be time consuming and even more costly.

“Have we even considered the victim here, which I suppose is the state?” Dailey told the judge. 

The court would have a “difficult time” with any prosecutor “abandoning” a crime victim after three years, “just because you have pressing matters,” he said.

Dailey also argued that it was Tisaby that obtained a copy of a donor list to a charity Greitens founded that was at the center of the other felony charge Gardner brought against him in 2018. 

Dailey said that the list includes clients of Carmody’s law firm.

“Mr. Tisaby will prove that’s the reason he was indicted,” Dailey said.

“I know nothing about what this person is suggesting,” a visibly angry Carmody responded. 

Dailey told the media later that the perjury charge was meant to discredit Tisaby and caused a “distraction” from the donor list. Carmody told the Independent that he did not want to comment on the accusation.

Judge Hettlenbach said the court will make a decision by July 2 on the issues of appointing another special prosecutor or dismissing the case. 

Not about Tisaby

Daniel Dailey, attorney for William Tisaby, spoke to the media after a hearing on Thursday, June 24. Jermaine Wooten (left), also a defense attorney in the case, listens in. (Photo by Rebecca Rivas/The Missouri Independent)

While the case deliberated Thursday focuses on Tisaby, Gardner contends that it’s actually an attempt to remove her — the city’s first African American circuit attorney — from elected office. 

In January 2020, Gardner filed a federal lawsuit under the Klu Klux Klan Act against Carmody, the city and the police union, alleging a civil rights conspiracy. The suit, which was dismissed, states that the entities named never intended to convict her or Tisaby of a crime but to impede her efforts “to stand up for the equal rights of racial minorities in St. Louis.” 

Gardner hired Tisaby in January 2018, soon after Greitens was charged with invasion of privacy.

The charge stemmed from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken against her will while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.

Gardner said she needed to hire an outside investigator because the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department refused to look into the case. The department said it was never asked to investigate.

On March 19, 2018, Greitens’ defense team deposed Tisaby for approximately nine hours, and at that time Tisaby “reserved signature” — meaning he requested a copy of his deposition so he could review it before he signed it, Tisaby’s attorneys have previously argued. Thirty-six days later, Tisaby was scheduled for a second deposition, yet he had still not received a copy of his first one, his defense said.

So, Tisaby sought out a lawyer and attempted to obtain a continuance, or extension, to have a chance to review the deposition and clear the record if needed. 

However, the court denied Tisaby’s request, and Wooten advised him to plead the Fifth Amendment during the second deposition.

Greitens’ attorneys accused Tisaby of lying about whether he had taken notes during an interview with Greitens’ alleged victim. The police department investigated this claim, which spurred the grand jury proceedings. 

Carmody, a longtime friend of Greitens’ attorney Ed Dowd, was appointed as the special prosecutor.

On June 14, 2019 Tisaby was indicted on six counts of felonious perjury charges and one count of tampering with evidence.

While the indictment was for Tisaby, Gardner’s actions were highlighted just as much in the 30-page document. The indictment states that Gardner was present during Tisaby’s deposition and knew what he said was wrong but didn’t correct the record.

The Tisaby deposition led to Gardner dropping the invasion of privacy case against Greitens.

Greitens resigned in June 2018 as part of a plea deal with Gardner’s office on a separate felony charge involving the alleged theft of the donor list. 

Coalition of clergy and activists stand behind Gardner

Local activist Walle Amusa spoke out against the “unfair attacks” on St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gardner during a press conference on the steps of the the Carnahan Courthouse on Thursday June 24. (Photo by Wiley Price/St. Louis American)

Prior to the Thursday hearing, a coalition of civil rights, faith-based and community organizations held a rally in support of Gardner on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse.

“Those who are attacking Kim Gardner are not hiding the fact that it is blatant racism and retaliation,” said the Rev. Darryl Gray, a civil rights activist. 

An ethics complaint against Gardner, which mirrors much of the information in the Tisaby indictment, was recently filed with the Office of State Courts Administrator. 

A three-member panel will review the complaint later this year. Gardner says she has not violated any legal ethical standards.

The coalition demanded that the complaint against Gardner be dropped. 

“In St. Louis Black communities, the criminal justice system fails to provide justice for the citizens it is sworn to protect,” said Jay Ozier, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (St. Louis Chapter). “Our organization stands with Ms. Gardner and supports her efforts to reform the criminal justice system. We applauded her stance that ‘no one is above the law,’ including governors and law enforcement officials.” 

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Rebecca Rivas
Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas is a multimedia reporter who covers Missouri's cannabis industry. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she has been reporting in Missouri since 2001, including more than a decade as senior reporter and video producer at the St. Louis American, the nation’s leading African-American newspaper.