Wake DA asks to be removed from prosecution in wife-hiring scheme
Posted August 23, 2017 11:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2017 10:27 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has asked state officials to appoint a new prosecutor to assist in the trial of Wallace Bradsher, the former district attorney in Person and Caswell counties, who is accused of providing a no-show job to the wife of a fellow prosecutor.
Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer has said that he and Bradsher hired each other's wives to get around state ethics rules that prohibit prosecutors from employing relatives. A State Bureau of Investigation probe found that Pam Bradsher did the work she was paid to do by Blitzer but that Cindy Blitzer was taking nursing classes while on the clock in Wallace Bradsher's office.
Craig Blitzer pleaded guilty last month to failing to discharge the duties of his office and repaid the state the $48,000 his wife was paid improperly. His sentence was postponed until similar charges are resolved against Bradsher.
In a letter to the state Administrative Office of the Courts dated Aug. 17, Freeman said that her office anticipates that the case against Bradsher will take more work to complete now that he has parted ways with his attorney and indicated an intention to represent himself.
“Our office is currently understaffed, and at the moment, we have a prosecutor on maternity leave as well and a vacancy recently created by a resignation,” her letter states.
Additionally, she said, Bradsher has accused Freeman of prosecutorial misconduct.
He filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case against him on Aug. 14, alleging that Freeman made improper comments to the media about his pending case, misrepresented details of the case during Blitzer's plea hearing and “impermissibly linked” Bradsher's prosecution to a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Debbie Halbrook, who claims Bradsher fired her after learning she had provided information about the wife-hiring scheme to the State Bureau of Investigation.
"We do not have and have never had any agreement with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to assist us in any way with our whistleblower lawsuit,” Drew Erteschik, Halbrook's attorney, said in an email late Wednesday.
Bradsher maintains in the motion that Cindy Blitzer was paid by the AOC for hours she said she worked without anyone in his office ever approving her timesheets.
While the motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct does not require Freeman’s office to recuse itself from the case, she said she made the decision to step aside.
“I have determined that in the interest of protecting the appearance of complete fairness that I will establish a fire wall between the attorney handling this matter and myself,” she wrote.