John Bujak sparred Tuesday with Nampa Mayor Tom Dale over whether Dale knew Bujak planned to profit personally from a county contract to handle cases for the city of Nampa.
Bujak, charged with felony misuse of public funds in connection with $236,000 from the Nampa contract, says his only obligation to the county was to cover raises for his staff plus the expenses in handling the citys misdemeanor caseload. Any money left over from the nearly $600,000 annual contract was mine to do with as I pleased, he said, contending that county commissioners and others knew all along that was the plan.
Prosecutors told the jury that county leaders backed Bujak taking the contract with the specific understanding that the prosecutor would not personally profit, and that any money not needed to cover contract expenses would provide extra revenue to Canyon County.
To serve their arguments, each side has focused on a different time frame during the trial. Prosecutors focus on summer 2009 through spring 2010, when the contract was forged, implemented and revised. In that period, numerous documents referred to Bujak seeing no personal profit.
Bujak, handling his own defense, directed witness and jury attention to statements and documents in early summer 2010, when he responded to a lawsuit and other citizen concerns by saying it was legal and appropriate for him to profit from the contract. At the time, commissioners did not argue that point.
The push and pull between the two sides was demonstrated Tuesday, the second day of Bujaks trial, when Bujak cross-examined Dale, a witness for the prosecution.
Questioning Dale about a June 2010 letter from Nampas city attorney, Bujak referred to some of the letters content and asked Dale if he was aware that Bujak stood to receive large amounts of city taxpayer money. Dale responded by reading from a different portion of the letter that noted Bujak had said in March 2010 that no contract funds would wind up in the prosecutors pocket.
Bujak asked Dale again if he remembered the portion of the letter that referred to Bujaks potential profit.
The statements made by you to me in my office were No, youre not profiting from the contract, Dale replied. Bujak asked again, and Dale gave a similar reply. Youre fencing with me, mayor, Bujak said before directing Dale to the exact paragraph he sought to confirm.
Dale and other city leaders testified they were happy with the service Bujaks office provided and that the contract saved the city about $150,000 per year compared to the private the firm that previously served as Nampa prosecutor.
Bujaks trial is expected to last into next week.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447