Government & Politics

St. Louis police will investigate ex-FBI agent involved in Greitens case

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department plans to investigate allegations of perjury against a private investigator who was involved in the case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a police spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Greitens’ legal team announced Tuesday that it would file a police report about alleged perjury by William Don Tisaby, a Michigan-based private investigator and former FBI agent who was hired by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

The accusations against Tisaby are directly related to Gardner’s decision Monday to drop a felony invasion of privacy charge against Greitens days before the trial was to begin, Greitens' team said.

Schron Jackson, the spokeswoman for the police department, confirmed in an email that department officials met with two of Greitens' attorneys at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon to discuss the allegations.

"After the meeting, it was determined the SLMPD would be opening an investigation," Jackson said.

Greitens’ attorney Ed Dowd said in a statement earlier in the day that case against the governor had collapsed.

"It was dismissed because there was no evidence of any crime. But the misconduct in this case should be addressed," Dowd said.

“That includes the lead investigator lying about his methods and the evidence he collected. In fact, that lead investigator, William Tisaby, refused to testify in a deposition about his perjury and misbehavior in the case, and he pleaded the Fifth in response to over 50 questions.”

Tisaby's attorney, Jermaine Wooten, said the perjury allegations are without merit.

"The case was not about Mr. Tisaby. This case was not about Ms. Gardner. Those are just two distractions being used in this case," Wooten said.

The accusations of perjury relate to an interview that Tisaby conducted with the woman at the center of the case, who has testified that Greitens took a photo of her, partially nude and with her hands bound, without her consent to keep her quiet about their 2015 affair.

Wooten said Tisaby sat for an initial deposition and answered questions as honestly as possible. When Tisaby was called for a second deposition, Wooten said, he advised his client to invoke the Fifth Amendment because the judge would not grant a delay to give Wooten time to review the first deposition, which was conducted before he was hired.

"If we had had the time to prepare, he would have answered all their questions," he said.

Gardner released a statement Tuesday afternoon dismissing Greitens' team's plan to file a report as theatrics.

"There is not one shred of evidence that any action by Mr. Tisaby was illegal or materially impacted any evidence in this crime. There is also no evidence that Mr. Tisaby was anything other than mistaken or confused during his deposition when he answered the questions improperly," Gardner said in the statement.

She compared the attacks against her office to the attacks that President Donald Trump has made against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the role of Russia in the 2016 election.

"I knew when I began investigating the Governor that his high-priced defense team would use whatever means possible to attack my team and me in court and through the media," Gardner said. "How did I know? Twice Governor Greitens’ team of attorneys came to my office and threatened my staff and me with the continued barrage of insults and accusations if we continued to pursue charges against the Governor."

The decision to open an investigation into Tisaby follows months of tension between Gardner's office and the police department about the Greitens case and other issues.

Gardner, the first African America circuit attorney in St. Louis history, ran on a platform of holding police officers accountable for officer-involved shootings. The Saint Louis Police Officers Association endorsed her opponents in the Democratic primary in 2016 and criticized Gardner for her support from New York billionaire George Soros, an attack that has been recycled by Greitens' political team in recent months.

Gardner's office has previously said it decided to use private investigators to conduct the investigation into Greitens after Col. John Hayden, the city's police chief, said the matter was out of the department's purview. Hayden's office disputed that in February.

Greitens’ team had filed a motion last week to call Gardner as a witness after Tisaby invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.

Judge Rex Burlison had tentatively denied that motion, but he had agreed to allow an "offer of proof" that would have required Gardner to deliver sworn testimony either in a deposition or at a court hearing, a move that Gardner’s office argued effectively would have made her a witness in the case she was prosecuting.

Gardner’s office dismissed the case after that decision and has called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to refile the charge.

Tisaby’s role in the case was heavily referenced during a closed-door meeting between Burlison and attorneys from both sides Monday morning regarding whether Gardner would have to testify.

A transcript of the meeting was briefly unsealed Monday by Burlison, but it is no longer publicly available because the whole case against Greitens became sealed once the case was dismissed.

Greitens’ attorneys noted that Gardner was present during an interview that Tisaby conducted with the woman, according to a copy of the transcript.

“Her involvement in this case and her individualized involvement is significant, and she is the only available witness for many things we want to explore,” Jim Martin, an attorney for the governor, said during the meeting.

Robert Dierker, an attorney from Gardner’s office, said during a meeting that Gardner was ready to offer Tisaby immunity so he could be compelled to testify if necessary.

Greitens’ attorneys pushed back on the offer on the grounds that Gardner was allegedly involved in suborning Tisaby’s perjury.

The judge said the court did not want be “caught flatfooted if it is that Mr. Tisaby does take the Fifth and there needs to be some probing, or some information with regard to things that would normally have come in through Mr. Tisaby that may have to come in through Ms. Gardner.”

Gardner’s office dropped the charge against Greitens after the Missouri Court of Appeals denied a motion from the prosecutor seeking to block the questioning of Gardner.

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