- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A former Idaho prosecutor and current gubernatorial candidate has been acquitted of bankruptcy fraud charges in federal court.

A Boise jury deliberated about four hours Friday before acquitting John Bujak. The Idaho Statesman reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/1hEslSL) that the verdict followed four days of testimony on charges that Bujak concealed a high-priced Rolex watch from creditors and lied about it during a personal bankruptcy case.

It was the fifth trial in recent years for Bujak, a former Canyon County prosecutor who is running as a Libertarian candidate for governor.

In the previous trials, all in state court, two juries acquitted Bujak, and two couldn’t reach verdicts. Three of those trials related to allegations that Bujak took several hundred thousand dollars in public funds while serving as Canyon County’s prosecutor in 2009 and 2010. The other concerned an unrelated theft charge involving an estate.

“I’ve been through a lot of trials, and I can’t help but believe it’s been vetting me for something bigger,” Bujak said Friday. “I’m thinking the governor’s race is it.”

Bujak was charged with bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, making a false statement under oath, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The charges carry penalties of five to 10 years each.

Prosecutors alleged that Bujak hid his then-wife’s Rolex watch when the couple filed for bankruptcy in late 2010.

Bujak, representing himself, said his former wife told him that she’d given the watch to her mother years earlier, and that’s why he didn’t include it when filing bankruptcy papers.

Bujak said he bought the watch for his then-wife, Pepper, in 2006 for about $50,000. He said it wasn’t among the couple’s possessions when they prepared bankruptcy documents, so he asked Pepper about it. He said that she told him that “years ago” she’d given the watch to her mother.

In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist told jurors that Bujak’s defense defied “common sense, defies reality and because of that he stands guilty.”

Bujak countered that the case against him was motivated by his ex-wife and her family after he admitted having an affair, later filed for divorce, and refused to agree to a hefty settlement.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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