- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The federal bankruptcy fraud trial for a former Idaho prosecutor was set to begin with jury selection on Tuesday.

John Bujak has been charged with bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, making a false statement under oath, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He pleaded not guilty in January.

The former Canyon County prosecutor, who is running for governor of Idaho as an independent, is representing himself in the trial. Bujak tells the Idaho Statesman (https://bit.ly/1fMLOW6) that he hasn’t decided if he will testify during the trial.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Bujak didn’t disclose to the bankruptcy court in 2010 that he and his then-wife owned a $25,000 Rolex watch that was sold with a ring to an out-of-state jeweler.

Prosecutors say Bujak cashed the check at a payday loan store rather than putting it in his bank account.

Leading up to the trial, prosecutors filed motions involving rules should Bujak choose to testify, which would have Bujak asking himself questions. On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge ordered that Bujak must not present “hearsay” testimony by including phrases such as “Isn’t it true that I told you …” in his questions.

Other pretrial motions by the prosecution included that Bujak can’t bring up his participation in politics or put forward a theory that he’s being prosecuted because of his political aspirations.

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, said pretrial motions are typical in an upcoming trial.

“I can’t say that any of this is unusual,” Olson said. “Each case has its own facts and circumstances.”

According to court documents, prosecutors plan to call Jose Vivero, a jeweler from Miami Beach, Florida, as a witness to testify that he bought a woman’s Rolex from Bujak.

Vivero paid Bujak $25,000 for the watch that the jeweler estimates has a value of $100,000, according to the documents that also contend that Bujak persuaded his then-wife to make false statements under oath about the watch.

Bujak, in legal filings, said the watch was a gift for his mother-in-law and was no longer in his possession at the time of his bankruptcy filing.

In previous legal skirmishes at the state level, Bujak has represented himself and won.

His troubles started in 2010, when he quit as prosecutor after being accused of diverting money from a $734,000 contract he had struck for the Canyon County prosecutor’s office to handle misdemeanors for Nampa.

Bujak maintained it was a legal contract that saved taxpayers money, earned Canyon County lawyers raises, and bolstered his personal pay. A jury in 2012 found him not guilty.

He was also charged with creating false evidence, but the case ended in a mistrial, and prosecutors ultimately dropped that charge to pursue a contempt of court claim against Bujak. He pleaded guilty to that claim in July.

His law license was suspended in 2012 as he was fighting prosecution. In August, the Idaho Supreme Court re-instated the license.

The charges against Bujak carry penalties of five to 10 years each.

“If I’m convicted of one or more offenses, I’m going to prison,” Bujak told the newspaper Monday. “And if I’m acquitted, it’s finally over.”

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

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