After a nearly yearlong SBI investigation into the alleged theft of $100,000 in state money, two former district attorneys each face a misdemeanor criminal charge.
Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer and former Person/Caswell County District Attorney Wallace Bradsher are each charged with one count of misdemeanor failure to discharge the duties of their office. A Wake County grand jury indicted the former prosecutors Tuesday morning.
The charges stem from allegations that the men schemed to hire each other’s wives in order to collect more than $100,000 in combined annual unearned salaries.
As first-time offenders, Blitzer and Bradsher will not face jail time if convicted, said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who picked up the case in February.
The N.C. State Bar will also review the investigation. Depending on its findings, the bar, which regulates the legal profession in North Carolina, could hold its own hearing to decide whether the former prosecutors should face any discipline, which could range from a reprimand to disbarment.
“One of our primary objectives is to try and recoup some of the money that the state would have paid out,” Freeman said, but she would not comment specifically on how the money might be returned.
Freeman said she expects Blitzer and Bradsher to voluntarily turn themselves in before the end of the week. She is not pursuing additional charges against either man or other people involved, including the prosecutors’ wives, Cindy Blitzer and Pamela Bradsher.
“Our focus has been on the individuals in the position to make a decision for this type of arrangement,” Freeman said.
For months, residents of the three counties learned through court records about allegations that Cindy Blitzer took full-time nursing classes while filing time sheets that said she was working full time as a legal assistant in Craig Blitzer’s office and as an investigator in Wallace Bradsher’s office making $50,160 annually. According to court records, former employees accused Craig Blitzer of forcing his employees to take online college courses for his wife on state computers and Wallace Bradsher of taking bribes from defendants and their attorneys.
People took to social media Tuesday and sent messages to the News & Record expressing outrage, saying the charge wasn’t enough for their actions.
Craig Blitzer’s attorney, Chris Clifton, said, “I think Craig is just glad that the grand jury decided not to seek felony charges, he’s glad his wife was not charged, and he’s looking forward to dealing with what is in front of him and moving past this.”
Clifton said the indictments should indicate that the public is not aware of everything in play, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
Wallace Bradsher’s attorney, Thomas Walker, also learned about the indictments Tuesday afternoon.
“I can confirm that he was charged with a misdemeanor related to failing to adequately supervise Cindy Blitzer,” Walker said of his client. “It’s important to note that Pam Bradsher has not been charged with anything. The investigation actually revealed that Pam worked and Pam did her job. Any inference to the contrary isn’t true.”
Walker does not represent Pamela Bradsher. Freeman said SBI agents did not find any evidence that Pamela Bradsher inaccurately reported her time worked.
Freeman began overseeing the SBI investigation in late February after a whistleblower lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court by Debra Halbrook, a former Caswell County victim-witness legal assistant. Halbrook accused Wallace Bradsher of firing her after learning she reported him and Blitzer to the SBI.
Court records later revealed that Halbrook was one of three people who reported the district attorneys.
Rockingham County Assistant District Attorneys Spencer Morrow and Jason Ramey also reported the alleged theft of state money through the misuse of the state’s payroll system.
On July 25, 2016, Superior Court Judge Joe Crosswhite ordered the SBI to look into the reports. After agents gathered enough evidence. Crosswhite asked the N.C. Attorney General’s Office to take over the investigation. The office, then run by now-Gov. Roy Cooper, denied the request, citing a conflict of interest.
Current N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office is representing several of Bradsher’s employees named in the lawsuit but who were not charged in connection to the Bradsher-Blitzer case.
After Cooper denied the request, the case sat dormant until Freeman adopted the investigation.
Craig Blitzer resigned from office weeks later on March 10. Wallace Bradsher resigned May 19.
Freeman said the men are scheduled to appear in Wake County Superior Court the week of July 24.