After a year under investigation and nearly a year of legal wrangling, former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak reached the end of his felony trial Thursday with no verdict.
I think everyone was hoping wed have a resolution one way or another, Bujak said after the jury couldnt decide whether he was guilty of misusing $236,000 in public money. I think both sides are frustrated no disrespect to the jury.
Like the judge and prosecutor in the case, Bujak said he appreciates the hard work of jurors who deliberated 19 hours over three days, poring over five days of testimony and evidence, before giving up on reaching unanimity.
You have advised me you are hopelessly deadlocked. Is that correct? Senior District Judge G.D. Carey asked after the five women and seven men filed into the Caldwell courtroom at 4:30 p.m. The jurors emphatically nodded their heads.
Its not a question of 11 to 1 or 10 to 2; theres a substantial division among the jurors, Carey added. Again, the jury nodded unanimously.
Although Bujak had hoped for a less ambiguous ending to the trial, one of his public defenders, Rolf Kehne, noted that it could be worse.
A tie is frustrating, Kehne said, but its a lot better than second place.
Bujak faced up to 14 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.
Special Prosecutor Bill Thompson said its too early to tell on the future.
Were going to sit down and evaluate the case that was presented and consider the fact that we had 12 Canyon County residents who couldnt agree based on what was presented, he said.
Prosecutors could refine their case and try again with another jury or pursue another avenue, said Thompson, who has been working on the case for about two years, in addition to his job as Latah County prosecutor.
It is unlikely the two sides would try formal mediation again, Bujak said, but we may be able to throw some offers back and forth and reach some kind of resolution.
His ideal solution, though unlikely, would address this felony charge and other cases hes embroiled in, he said. Id be hopeful to bring an end to this chapter of my life.
Bujak served 19 months as county prosecutor before resigning amid pressure to pay back more than $200,000 county leaders expected from a nearly $600,000 contract to use county resources to handle misdemeanor prosecutions for the city of Nampa.
Judge Carey suggested that the defense and prosecution begin discussing whats next at a hearing already set for next Tuesday about Bujaks effort to have a Canyon deputy prosecutor ruled in contempt over evidence issues.
Canyon County commissioners issued a one-sentence statement saying they will meet with the special prosecution team Tuesday to discuss our next step.
Commissioners say they allowed Bujak to have Nampas $50,000 monthly payments put into a lawyers trust account that only he could access because they trusted him and had documentation declaring that Bujak could not profit personally from the contract.
Evidence shows that Bujak took money from the trust account for personal expenses. But he says the money was his to use as he pleased, and contends that commissioners agreed until they came under political pressure.
Bujak, who served as his own defense attorney at trial, says that he committed no crime and that if he does owe the county money, its a civil matter.
Thompson said Bujak took the money in secret and in violation of his agreement with commissioners. He said the former prosecutor deceived commissioners, city officials and his own staff, repeatedly declaring that he was not taking money from the contract.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447