2017-05-17 / Featured

Embattled DA gives up post

By Johnny Whitfield
Courier-Times Editor

Bradsher Bradsher Wallace Bradsher, the District Attorney for Person and Caswell counties since 2011, has resigned in the midst of an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation into his office’s involvement in a hiring scheme in which Bradsher’s wife worked for a neighboring district attorney while Bradsher employed that DA’s spouse. There are allegations that neither woman actually worked a full time job to earn the $100,000 in salary they were paid each year.

Wallace sent his resignation to Gov. Roy Cooper Monday afternoon. In his letter to Cooper, Bradsher touted a 30 percent reduction in crime and the closure of more than 100 drug houses throughout the district.

But Bradsher also said it was in the best interest of his office that he resign his position. The resignation takes effect Friday at noon.

Bradsher, who was working in his office on Tuesday, did not return calls for comment.

Bradsher and Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer have been under investigation by the SBI since last summer over allegations that time sheets had been improperly approved. The N.C. Attorney General’s Office declined to take over the investigation citing a conflict of interest, but Wake County District Attorney Lorin Freeman, whose office often handles state government cases, assumed oversight of the matter. Her office has been working with the SBI since February.

‘Sense of closure’

Freeman said Bradsher’s resignation can give Person and Caswell County residents a sense of closure.

“That jurisdiction has had the shadow of this investigation hanging over it for a long time now. From the public perspective, it creates a lack of trust,” Freeman said. “Based on a belief that it is hard for the focus to remain on the court’s business when you’ve got this going on, the public is best served by trying to move on in a pretty short order.”

Freeman says the SBI investigation is nearing an end, but she declined to say when she thinks it may wrap up. She said the criminal investigation is also aided by the fact that Bradsher resigned. “If we were to head down a road where criminal charges were considered it would be of interest to have the knowledge or assurance that this district will be able to move forward,” Freeman said.

In February, a former legal assistant in Bradsher’s office, Debra Halbrook, filed a lawsuit against Bradsher, Blitzer, their wives, former assistant DA Jay Stultz, who is now a District Court judge, and the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversees the operations of district attorney’s offices, alleging that she was fired because she complained about the hiring arrangement to the SBI.

That civil lawsuit remains on file in Wake County.

Under state law, Cooper will fill the vacancy created by Bradsher’s resignation. Samantha Cole, a spokeswoman for Cooper, said the governor expects to name a replacement by Friday when Bradsher’s resignation takes effect.

Bradsher was first elected to the office in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

Blitzer, the Rockingham County DA, resigned in March, days after SBI agents raided his office. At the time, Bradsher said he had no plans to resign his office.

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