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Perry Prosecutor Accused of Witness Tampering

Special Prosecutor Mike McCrum defended corrupt sheriff, bribing businessman

The man behind the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was accused of witness tampering earlier this year by a Texas District Attorney. Mike McCrum, a special prosecutor in Texas, secured a two-count grand jury indictment of Perry last week alleging the long-time governor had abused his office. But McCrum’s past, which includes extensive work as a defense attorney, cast shadows over his current crusade against alleged abuses of power.

In March of this year, Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to allow a complaint she filed against McCrum in a lower court in January to move forward. Reed alleges that McCrum tried to suppress evidence damaging to one of his clients by telling a key witness to refuse to show up in court.

McCrum originally asked the witness to appear in the case, but when prosecutors wanted to examine her further about records they obtained, McCrum allegedly told her to “go get lost for a while.” Instead, she appeared in court and related the conversation to prosecutors. They now want to see McCrum held in contempt of court.

McCrum’s client was Taylor Rae Rosenbusch, who pled guilty to killing two men while driving intoxicated.

According to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals website, documents in the matter have been submitted as late as July 29 and the case appears to be open.

Despite the intense media scrutiny focused on McCrum as a result of the Perry indictment, the allegation that he suppressed a witness in a different case earlier this year has gone mostly unnoticed. The conservative website NewsBusters featured a blog post that mentioned the matter in passing, and a blogger summarizing McCrum’s background also mentioned it on Monday afternoon.

It is also a bit of an irony that McCrum would be the man picked to serve as special prosecutor in a public integrity case. Since leaving his job in a U.S. District Attorney’s office in 2000, he has worked as a defense attorney. Among his clients are numerous government officials accused or found guilty of misconduct in office.

McCrum defended Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez in a 2007 criminal case that alleged he took a free trip out of country paid for by the company that benefited from a new jail contract he rushed into effect. Lopez plead no contest to the criminal charges and left office in disgrace.

In 2002, McCrum defended one of four men – two of whom were San Antonio City Council members – in a bribery case. When news of the case broke, McCrum went to bat for his client declaring, according to The Dallas Morning News, “This whole thing is just out of character for Jack. Jack’s an honest man, an honorable man, and it’s inconceivable that the government would suspect him of bribery, much less accuse him.”

In September of 2004, Jack Pytel, the man whose character McCrum defended, pled guilty to “one count of conspiracy to commit bribery as well as a substantive bribery charge.” He also “admitted to paying Martin $5,000 to vote for the Heard, Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, Pena & Sampson bid and to secure Sanders’ vote for the bid.”

While McCrum has secured a grand jury indictment of Perry, the governor has vowed to defend himself. Perry is not the first Republican governor to face harassment from prosecutors recently. Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin investigated government employees hired by Gov. Scott Walker in a case Democrats theorized would ultimately lead to the governor’s indictment. It never did.

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