Court: Bujak’s trust account records were public record

From the Idaho Press-Tribune

CANYON COUNTY – The Idaho Supreme Court, in a ruling filed Thursday, said financial documents related to John Bujak’s contract with the city of Nampa for prosecuting services were indeed public record.

Newly elected Nampa City Council member Bob Henry, who sued Bujak and Canyon County to see the records, said Thursday that the decision is a significant victory.

The high court, however, did not award Henry attorney fees.

The court ruled that Bujak’s financial documents relating to payments for services his office provided to the city of Nampa should have been available for public scrutiny, the county was not required “to obtain records that it had never prepared, owned, used or retained.”

Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor also called the decision a win for the county, but looks beyond what happened before he was appointed county prosecutor after Bujak resigned in September 2010.

“My task since taking office has been to move beyond these issues,” Taylor said. “I think we’ve done that, in a way which is aggressively transparent and above politics. One of my primary objectives since I have been appointed as the prosecutor is to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again.  Politics and law make uneasy bedfellows and that is a lesson my administration has taken to heart.”

Henry said the ruling also “vindicates the interests of the citizens of Canyon County” in four ways:

1. The prosecution services contract was a public contract and Bujak’s performance of the contract was the public’s business,

2. That payments from the city of Nampa to Bujak did not make the payments his personal money,

3. That records regarding public moneys cannot be shielded from public scrutiny just because the Canyon County commissioners agreed to have hundreds of thousands of dollars deposited into Mr. Bujak’s personal bank account

4. That the Canyon County commissioners always had the statutory power to demand an audit and the records from Mr. Bujak, but the commissioners simply decided not to use that power for the benefit of the public.

“As I stated previously, my goal in pursuing the appeal was to establish case law that help prevent future misuses of public funds,” Henry said.  “(The) opinion satisfies that goal.”

John Bujak criminal case update

Canyon County’s former prosecutor was arrested Dec. 13 on charges of embezzlement by and theft by deception charges. He is accused of taking $236,000 in money that should have gone to Canyon County.

The funds, according to an affidavit filed in 3rd District Court, came from a trust account Bujak used to deposit money from the city of Nampa for nonfelony prosecution services performed by the county.

Bujak said because the contract was private he owed the county nothing.

A preliminary hearing for Bujak’s case is set for 9 a.m., Jan. 25 before Magistrate Judge James Peart.

Bujak bonded out of jail but must wear an electronic GPS device and stay in the 3rd and 4th judicial districts. He also surrendered his passport.

From the Idaho Press-Tribune

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