Affidavits: Former DAs hatched wife-hiring scheme over pizza
Wallace Bradsher, the former district attorney in Person and Caswell counties, continued to push a scheme in which he provided a no-show job to another district attorney’s wife despite a growing state investigation last year, according to court documents filed last week.
Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer and his wife filed affidavits on Aug. 17 in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee of Bradsher’s. The affidavits lay out the details of the agreement that led to the resignations of the two prosecutors and criminal charges against them.
Craig Blitzer states that he and Bradsher concocted a scheme at a Wentworth, N.C., pizza parlor in early 2015 to hire each other’s wives after officials with the state Administrative Office of the Courts informed them that state ethics rules prohibit prosecutors from employing relatives. Blitzer, who had been elected the previous November, said he needed his wife to work to make up for the pay he lost in moving from private practice to the district attorney’s office.
At the time, Cindy Blitzer was enrolled full-time in nursing school in High Point, and when she and her husband expressed concerns about her meeting her work obligations in Caswell County, Bradsher told her, “You focus on your studies. I’ll take care of the time sheets,” according to the affidavits.
Craig Blitzer also helped his wife’s schooling by getting people on her staff to take an online math course for her.
“During the course of Cindy’s nursing program, I asked one of my assistant district attorneys and a non-lawyer staff member to assist in completing coursework for Cindy,” Craig Blitzer said in his affidavit. “I was aware that they did this during their regular work hours. In hindsight, I regret asking my colleagues to do this.”
Last summer, the State Bureau of Investigation began looking into the work arrangement of Cindy Blitzer and Pam Bradsher after an assistant district attorney in Rockingham County and a staffer in Wallace Bradsher’s office tipped off authorities that the women were being paid for work they didn’t perform.
Investigators determined that Pam Bradsher did the work she was paid to do but that Cindy Blitzer earned $48,000 from her no-show job.
During the investigation, Wallace Bradsher repeatedly told Craig Blitzer that he demanded loyalty from his staff and was intent on finding the “leak” in his office, according to Blitzer’s affidavit.
Blitzer said he asked if his wife should resign, but Bradsher told him no. “I’ll take this to 12,” meaning a jury trial, Bradsher said, according to Blitzer.
Yet, he fired Cindy Blitzer on Oct. 24 and told her husband, “If this goes bad, I’m going to sue AOC for not training me properly,” the affidavit states.
Bradsher pressured Blitzer to fire one or two of his assistants because Bradsher was certain one of them was providing information to the SBI, according to the affidavit.
“Look, I can’t tell you what to do, Craig, but I would fire an employee for not being loyal. I did fire an employee, Debbie Halbrook, for not being loyal when she was telling what was going on in my office to the SBI,” Bradsher told Blitzer in January, the affidavit states.
Halbrook is the former staffer who filed the whistleblower lawsuit.
“Our lawsuit alleges that Wallace Bradsher fired Debbie Halbrook because she was brave enough to step forward and tell the truth about what she saw. This sworn affidavit from Mr. Bradsher’s co-defendant now corroborates our allegations in graphic detail,” Halbrook’s attorney, Drew Erteschik, said in an email Wednesday.
Blitzer resigned as district attorney on March 10, two days after the SBI searched his office for records in the investigation.
One day before the SBI search, an AOC employee tipped him off about the impending search and advised him to wipe his computer records, according to the affidavit. Blitzer said he instead cooperated with investigators.
It’s unclear whether the AOC employee faces any criminal charges in the case.
Blitzer pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor charge of failure to discharge the duties of his office and repaid the state the $48,000 his wife earned. His sentencing was postponed until after the case against Bradsher, a North Carolina State Bar complaint and Halbrook’s lawsuit are all resolved.
Bradsher, who also faces a charge of failure to discharge the duties of his office, resigned in May as district attorney for Person and Caswell counties.