The special prosecutor overseeing the investigation of how St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner prosecuted last year’s criminal case against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens confirmed Thursday that the investigation is still ongoing, even though the grand jury has disbanded.
Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody took the unusual step of putting out a statement clarifying that the grand jury disbanded Monday not because the investigation was complete, but because it reached its expiration and its term could not be extended.
“Notwithstanding the expiration of that Grand Jury’s term, the investigation into possible criminal activity will continue,” Carmody said in the statement.
It wasn’t clear if Carmody would seek a new grand jury or simply continue the investigation himself. A spokesman declined further comment.
The statement was released hours after Gardner spoke at a news conference saying it was time to move on after an eight-month grand jury investigation. Gardner, a Democrat and the city’s first black female circuit attorney, was surrounded in a show of support by about three dozen black clergy, legislators and other leaders.
The grand jury last month issued a seven-count indictment of William Tisaby, a former FBI agent hired by Gardner to investigate Greitens. The Republican governor was charged in February 2018 with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking an unauthorized, compromising cellphone photo of a woman during an extramarital affair in 2015.
The charge was eventually dropped but Greitens resigned in June 2018.
Tisaby, who also is black, was accused of lying during a deposition in the Greitens case and was indicted on perjury and evidence tampering.
The indictment of Tisaby raised concerns about whether Gardner was complicit in his alleged crimes, saying she failed to correct Tisaby’s inaccuracies or report them, and that she herself made incorrect statements to defense lawyers and a judge.
Gardner declined to discuss specific details of the Tisaby case but said she did nothing illegal or unethical.
“Now, we have to stop spending our time and limited resources looking at one case as if this is the only measure of competence and success,” Gardner said. She said the “true measure” is how her office handles 10,000 cases annually, works to reduce incarceration for low-level offenses and treats addiction as a public health problem rather than a crime.
Others who spoke at the news conference said convening a second grand jury to investigate Gardner would create more mistrust of the criminal justice system among St. Louis’ black residents.
Democratic state Rep. Steven Roberts, chairman of the Legislature’s Black Caucus, said the grand jury system is meant to protect against “oppressive” prosecution.
“Forum shopping for a grand jury after not issuing an indictment without any additional evidence would be a great miscarriage of justice,” Roberts said.
Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, said the city’s black community “felt it was under attack when she (Gardner) was under attack.” He said Gardner’s reforms have “allowed for the scales of justice, in our estimation, to be as balanced as possible, and we haven’t seen that before.”