NAMPA, Idaho (CN) – After a yearlong silence during a public scandal based on accusations that he owes the county $300,000 public dollars, former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak struck back, suing the Hamilton, Michaelson and Hilty law firm, which he claims undermined and defamed him while he was handling prosecutions for the city of Nampa, forcing him to resign.
It all started after a bidding process for legal services ended with the city hiring Bujak in July 2009 and giving Hamilton Michaelson the boot.
Bujak, who worked for a $100,000 salary, claims in his pro se complaint that Hamilton Michaelson had been grossing “in an aggregate amount” more than $1 million per year from its prosecution contract with Nampa.
Hamilton Michaelson did not take kindly to losing its city contract, Bujak says.
“After July 2009, HMH and [defendant Kerry] Michaelson engaged in a campaign of writing emails and letters to elected officials including, but not limited to, the Idaho Attorney General’s office, making false accusations that Bujak had committed a felony crime and demanding investigation and prosecution,” according to Bujak’s complaint in Canyon County Court.
Bujak claims HMH also contacted law enforcement agencies, the Idaho State Bar, attorneys and judges and newspapers and television stations.
“After Bujak was awarded the Nampa prosecution contract, the defendants met together and developed a plan to (a) undermine and interfere with Bujak’s contractual relationship with the City of Nampa, (b) spread false and defamatory accusations about Bujak in the community and, (c) intentionally caused Bujak emotional distress,” the complaint states.
The squabble has been a yearlong mediafest in Idaho.
Insurance agent Bob Henry, who recently won a seat on the Nampa City Council, joined the fray, unsuccessfully suing to make Bujak’s financial records public.
Henry appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, where arguments will be heard Dec. 9.
Henry is also named as a defendant in Bujak’s complaint.
Boise’s KTVB Channel 7 reported that Canyon County Clerk Bill Hurst told it Bujak spent part of the contract money to give his staff raises.
Hurst told KTVB that County Commissioners sought $359,000 from a $600,000 contract that was pay Bujak additional money to handle Nampa’s misdemeanor cases.
Another Boise news station, KBOI Channel 2, reported that the $600,000 contract included an agreement to pay Bujak directly for contract legal work provided by the county attorney’s office, rather than the more traditional method of paying the bills through the county assessor’s office. The money Bujak did not use for bills was to be deposited into the county’s justice fund, which funds the prosecutor’s office, the sheriff’s office and other law enforcement efforts.
Hurst told KTVB that Bujak submitted a personal check for $71,000 to county commissioners on the last day of the fiscal year, leaving a balance of $288,000 of the original $600,000 given to him by the county.
According to The Idaho Statesman, Bujak filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 1 after resigning as county prosecutor Sept. 30, 2010.
The Idaho Press Tribune in Nampa reported that he was struggling to pay personal debts, including on vehicles and credit cards.
According to court documents obtained by The Idaho Statesman, Bujak is also in the middle of divorce proceedings, in which his estranged wife Pepper asked the divorce court to have her financial status declared separate from her husband’s.
KBOI 670 AM in Boise recently reported a court filing concerning Pepper Bujak, who claimed that she has been forced to apply for state assistance to feed herself and her son. She asked the court to order Bujak to pay $2,500 per month in temporary maintenance and child support.
KBOI 670 AM said Pepper Bujak told them her husband is working for $100 per hour at a law firm and is trading stocks on top of that. She filed copies of a checking account from a Texas bank as evidence, showing John Bujak’s expenditures of $11,000 and $12,000 for June and July. KBOI’s Doug McConnaughey obtained those expenditures, which he said included dinner purchases, plastic surgery, website fees, online games and athletic dues. There have been no reports that Bujak has left Idaho.
In his complaint, Bujak seeks damages for conspiracy to defame, conspiracy to tortiously interfere with contract, and conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional distress.
Nampa is the largest city in Canyon County, with a population of about 81,000. Traditionally an agricultural community, fast-growing Nampa has become a bedroom community for Boise.