Jesse: Wallace Bradsher defending himself, he faces 18 years in prison if convicted of these really bizarre crimes in connection with a bizarre scheme to hire another district attorney’s wife and pay her $48 thousand for work she didn’t do. And he’s trying to appeal to the common sense of the jury in his closing argument, and I want to see if that was effective from our very special guest, trial attorney, Brad Micklin, Brad, good to see you.
Brad: You’re getting it right this time, Jesse.
Jesse: I’m going to ask you the same question that I’ve asked everybody on this case. Does it make sense to you that he didn’t get any money for this scheme that he worked so hard to protect Cindy Blitzer and Craig Blitzer and make sure that she kept earning this money, he didn’t gain anything from it. She said she wanted to resign and he said no. What am I not getting here? Something about that doesn’t make sense, and you heard the flavor of it in his closing argument.
Brad: Yeah, and I didn’t hear much testimony during the case about her involvement, Bradsher’s wife’s involvement, but we have to remember first, she was still working in the other district attorney’s office, but also, from my understanding, the investigation that led to this trial began in part because Bradsher wanted to give his wife, who was then working for his office, like a 30% raise. And that kind of set off bells and alerted some people, so they started investigating it. Then we have this transfer to other offices. So she was … First of all, we don’t know what her salary was when she was transferred, if she did or didn’t get this raise, but then she was transferred to this other office where she’s now working. And the thing about it is Cindy testified that not only did she not have to work, she didn’t have to go in, which sounds like a perfect job to me, I would love a job like that.
But can we really believe that he would have given his wife more work, but not to Cindy? If Cindy came into the office who had, I think it was one case and then no cases, you can’t really believe that his wife was working that hard in his office, and then she was moved to another office just to keep the salary, it wasn’t about assisting him in his office any longer.
Jesse: Something doesn’t add up, right? Something doesn’t add up about it. Again, he said, “Do you think that I would have told her? I would have refused her resignation, said I had unfettered discretion to do what I want, and then fire her a short time afterwards?” Does that make sense? I mean, what does seem plausible here? Does it seem plausible that we heard the testimony from another individual who worked in the office, J. Stultz, who was supposed to be the supervisor of Cindy, but then was not the supervisor of her, gave that to Wallace Bradsher.
Wallace Bradsher said to him, “Look, I know you have a lot on your plate. I’ll assign it to somebody else.” Well, when this whole SBI investigation came forward, Wallace Bradsher called John Stultz in and said, “What’s going on with her hours?” He said, “I’m not handling them anymore, you were going to handle them.” He goes, “I never said that.” Wallace Bradsher then authorizes him to release all of her hours to the AOC, and when John Stultz says to him, “Did she work these hours?” He said yes. What about this do you think … let’s break it down really from a practical point of view. This guy’s a busy guy, he runs the whole office. I’m sure he’s not looking at her day in and day out what she’s working on and what she’s not working on. Is it plausible that she tried to reach him and tell him she had no work? Let’s start there.
Brad: I think it’s plausible, of course. I mean, many things would be plausible in a case like this, but I think the important points, which I mostly got from his opening argument. He did a really good, compelling opening argument. He pulled on your heart strings about his seven children, and how he left criminal practice because he wanted to reduce crime in his home town, so it was really compelling. But then he goes into talking about all of his attempts to circumvent the policy that prevented his wife from working there. He says he tried this way, then he tried this way, and then what he did, and this is what I thought was the most compelling in my belief of what he did was he then spoke about what he called mistakes. “This was my first mistake.” This was my second, third.
I remember him getting up to fourth, and I think when you have a criminal attorney who claims to be very successful as a criminal attorney, who is now an elected district attorney, knows this policy is in effect, and then continues to make what he alleges to be four different mistakes is just not credible. I think he had a strong idea, maybe that it wasn’t criminal, because it was an ethics issue in the beginning, but I think he was doing everything he could to keep the situation he had in place, and I think that while maybe Cindy did say that she didn’t have enough work, I don’t think he took any steps to rectify it.
Jesse: Do you think he told her not to resign and that he had unfettered discretion to do what he wanted and deliberately tried to cover this up? That’s the second part of this.
Brad: I think a little bit of both. My understanding from some of the testimony is that there was state statutes that gave an elected district attorney unfettered discretion over his or her employees, so that’s what I think he was referring to.
Brad: But it then became apparent that you may have unfettered discretion, but it can’t be your wife, that’s the employee, so that’s a separate issue.
Brad: You can have a dozen employees and you have constitutional authority over them, but it can’t be your wife.
Jesse: But now we have an update in this case because we heard yesterday the jury, and they’re still deliberating the fate of Mr. Bradsher and will continue Monday, they asked some questions to the courtroom, and perhaps that will give us an idea of where they’re headed in their deliberation, so let’s talk a little bit more about it with Brad Micklin. Brad, I’m going to ask you the questions, I’m going to tell you what the answers are, then you tell me what you think about it in terms of where the jury might be going.
The first question they asked is, “What is the date range for obtaining property under false pretenses?” Which is one of the charges. The answer he gave back to them was jurors were told the offense dates for obtaining property by false pretenses occurred between April 1, 2016 and October 24, 2016. What do you think about that?
Brad: Well it suggests that the jury is probably trying to find out what was happening at a specific time. I mean, obviously they’re asking for dates. And I think because there’s going to be an overlap, there’s issues in this case. Not just about the wife swap and the lack of work but also did he cover it up? There was discussion that he fired an employee that may have been a whistle blower. So I think the jury may be trying to line up these dates to see if there’s an overlap to look to whether or not there’s guilt or not guilt on certain offenses.
Jesse: Okay. The second question they had was, “For count two, what does representation refer to?” And the judge said, “To apply the common meaning that it may take on many forms.” Again, what can we glean from that? And just to let our viewers know, I believe the second charge is aiding and abetting. He’s charged with aiding and abetting, conspiracy, three counts of obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor charge of failure to discharge the duties of his office, and again, that felony of obtaining property by false pretense. So what do you think about that question?
Brad: It’s hard to really address that question without the full context of the instruction itself, we’re just given that one word, but routinely, in all kind of criminal offenses, the jury is charged with determining a mental state, mens rea, so that word that might be a specific definition that they need to find that he in fact did either have or act consistently with to be able to find whether or not he did commit the offense.
Jesse: “For count two, does property only apply to salary and benefits given to Cindy Blitzer, or can it include salary and benefits given to Tyler Henderson or others?” The answer given to the jury, “Property”, excuse me, “Property refers to benefits and pay given from the AOC to Cindy Blitzer.” That’s an interesting question.
Brad: Yeah, I find that interesting also because whether its given to one person or two people, it shouldn’t necessarily make such a large difference, but again, maybe at the different times, one person was receiving a benefit, and then later we have a different person receiving it, and they’re trying to piece together whether or not he did have the intention to commit these crimes, did he have the intention to kind of cover it up? So it could go to what his motive was as to whether or not he was giving certain people compensation or not.
Jesse: And they’re saying let’s just focus on Cindy here, let’s just focus … maybe they were saying, hey, we can’t get him on Cindy, but maybe we can get him on something else, or maybe it’s all together. Maybe a few counts of it.
Brad: Yeah, it’s hard to say because Cindy wasn’t charged with anything, which is-
Jesse: No, she was not.
Brad: A large … that’s understandable as many may think that what she did was horrible because she’s taking money from the government, but it may not have necessarily been her obligation to get work. It was Bradsher’s obligation to give her work.
Jesse: But she did say on the stand, “I knew what I was doing was wrong.” And you say that on the stand, it doesn’t get any more clear than that.
Brad: Well, but … and her husband did the same thing, but that’s easy to do when you’re given a plea deal that, one, she wasn’t charged with, and I’m assuming that was part of Craig’s deal, is, don’t charge my wife because he knew about the investigation 10 months before he even told her.
Brad: So there’s obviously some kind of, he was trying to protect her because he gave up his law license in the plea deal. But it’s very easy when you’re given a deal that says your wife’s not going to be charged and you won’t go to jail as long as you testify against this other person.
Jesse: Okay, final question that the jury asked was, “For count one,” again, that’s the false pretenses one, “what is the”, oh, I’m sorry, excuse me, that’s the conspiracy one, “For count one, what is the legal definition of conspiracy? Can you conspire for just letting things go on, for example, not being an active participant?” They were told that an agreement may be verbal or implied by the actions of the party. What do you think the jury’s thinking there?
Brad: Well, I think it goes back to that similar question they had about the representation. In order to find somebody guilty of any criminal offense, there’s usually going to be a mental state, something that was either they intended to do it or they negligently did it, so in order to conspire, there’s going to be certain mental states as well as certain over actions, I believe, that would be necessary to establish, and I think the jury is just trying to gather all that to figure out if it did or didn’t actually occur.