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Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

UPDATED with comments from attorney for Gardner:

ST. LOUIS — A special prosecutor says he has found no evidence of a crime after investigating Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner's claims that lawyers for then-Gov. Eric Greitens last year threatened to "ruin" her political career. 

Michael Bradley, a retired Boone County judge appointed to investigate Gardner's complaint, filed findings Thursday saying he would not charge any of Greitens' defense team.

"In summary, to be a crime, the intent of the speaker must be to harass, intimidate or threaten a judicial officer," Bradley said. "The statement must be one that is not made in the ordinary course of litigation. The intent of the speaker, not the reaction of the hearer, governs."

Gardner could not be reached. Her lawyer, Roy L. Austin Jr., called Bradley's findings "yet another whitewash of what's really going on in the city of St. Louis — a concerted, vicious campaign to intimidate" Gardner.

Gardner complained to city police last year that during trial preparation for the invasion of privacy case against Greitens, the former governor's lawyers threatened to sabotage her political career if she refused to drop the case against him.

According to Bradley's report, members of Greitens' defense team, having launched a "vigorous defense," told Gardner in a meeting March 16, 2018, that her case was weak and asked for it to be dismissed.

"The attorneys stated to the Circuit Attorney words to the effect: 'things are going to get worse.'," Bradley wrote. "These statements, while aggressive, were made in the normal course of litigation and did not show intent on the part of the defense team to harass, intimidate or threaten the Circuit Attorney."

That meeting was attended by Gardner, former Chief Trial Assistant Robert Dierker, then-Assistant Circuit Attorney Rachel Smith, defense lawyers Jack Garvey, Ed Dowd, Scott Rosenblum and Michelle Nasser, Bradley said. Defense lawyers told Gardner and staff that Greitens' actions "with regard to the computer and campaign finance issue was not criminal behavior and to convince the circuit attorney not to file charges on that issue."

Dierker, then Gardner's chief trial assistant, recalled Garvey saying "this is going to get worse instead of better, alluding to the — I think the political as well as the legal aspect."

Greitens' defense team argued that Gardner should dismiss the pending invasion of privacy charge accusing Greitens of snapping a photo of a seminude woman with whom he was having an affair and threatening to share it if she disclosed the relationship.

In Gardner's interview with police about her threat claim, she said, "Along with the rest of them that basically they said if I proceed further with any other charges, that — you know, basically my career would be ruined and things would get difficult. They kept referring — Jack — Jack Garvey repeatedly said things are going to get worse."

Gardner said Garvey "just kept saying it over and over again," the report says.

Bradley's report said Garvey was interviewed about Gardner's allegation in October 2018, recalling that the defense team told Gardner the Greitens case "is the type of case that can ruin a career.'" Garvey said he didn't recall telling Gardner that things were going to get worse but acknowledged the defense team "really focused on the reputation. We said look, this is — this will be her legacy, this case, if she continues to pursue this. Because this case is a loser and it's going to be embarrassing. So that's what we put out to her."

Other defense lawyers at the meeting, Dowd, Rosenblum and Nasser, recalled discussing merits of the case or similar versions of Garvey's comments on how continuing with the Greitens case would damage Gardner's reputation, the report says. Rosenblum told Gardner she didn't have a "submissible case;" Gardner disagreed.

Austin, Gardner's lawyer, emailed a statement to the Post-Dispatch saying Bradley's report shows Greitens' lawyers "went beyond normal defense tactics and indeed threatened CA Gardner in an effort to harass, intimidate and influence her to stop the justifiable investigation into the former governor."

Austin claimed Bradley's report omitted reference to Greitens' team "dropping a stack of irrelevant ethics complaints on the Circuit Attorney’s office table during the March meeting."

"Unfortunately, this type of rigged inquiry has become all too common in St. Louis when it comes to covering up for the powerful and well-connected," Austin's email said.

Greitens' defense team has repeatedly accused Gardner of ethics violations related to not correcting misstatements made in depositions by her private investigator William Don Tisaby, and failing to turn over key evidence. Tisaby was indicted in June on counts of perjury and evidence tampering for allegedly lying in depositions and failing to turn over handwritten notes from interviews with the woman who accused Greitens of snapping a photo of her partly clothed and threatening to share it.

Bradley's report said his investigation supports Greitens lawyer Jim Martin's contention that the defense made no offers to trade dismissal for not reporting ethical lapses to the state disciplinary counsel.

In May 2018, Gardner dismissed the invasion of privacy case rather than face questioning under oath about Tisaby or her involvement in the case. Gardner also dismissed a computer tampering charge in exchange for Greitens' resignation as Missouri's governor.

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