UPDATE: Rockingham County DA Craig Blitzer resigned two days after SBI executed a search warrant at his office.
The State Bureau of Investigation searched the office of Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer on Wednesday afternoon.
According to documents obtained by WFMY News 2, investigators with the SBI applied for a search warrant for a state owned computer in possession of the Rockingham County DA. The warrant issued is part of an ongoing SBI investigation, launched in July 26th of 2016.
Court documents read the investigation is in “reference to fraudulent activity in Caswell, Person, and Rockingham counties’ district attorney’s offices.”
The search warrant and inventories of items seized by the Raleigh Police Department were sealed to withhold names of the suspects, to prevent jeopardizing the investigation and any future suspect’s rights to a fair trial.
Although not mentioned by name in these documents - the SBI has been looking into allegations of the theft of state money at the offices of Blitzer and Person/Caswell County DA for Wallace Bradsher. A lawsuit also recently filed against the two district attorney's offices, alleges the two men hired each others' wives. The women allegedly made more than $100,000 a year, combined. The SBI began investigating after a former employee of Bradsher's filed a lawsuit. In the lawsuit, the former employee claims she was fired after notifying the SBI about the hirings.
Defense Attorney Locke Clifford, who is unaffiliated with the case and investigation, explained the basis of this type of investigation.
“We have an anti-nepotism law and it says that if you’re on the public payroll and you’re hiring people and paying those with tax payers dollars, you cannot hire your close relatives," explained Clifford. "Now, if they hired each other's wives, and they are going to work every day, working 40 hours, getting a check. They probably wouldn’t be in trouble. There’s no violation of the nepotism rule. Although it has a little smell to it, but that wouldn't be illegal."
The former employee alleged in her lawsuit that while the positions were fulltime, the wives only worked a few days a year.
“That means the SBI would be investigating the crime of obtaining property by false pretenses which is pretending you’re working, pretending you’ve hired somebody when it didn’t happen. And, when that produces a damage in excess of $100,000, that’s a class C Felony. That’s some serious jail time," said Clifford."
No charges have been filed in either county against either district attorney or their spouses.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman took over the investigation in February of 2017. Freeman told WFMY over the phone, “I’m not going to comment on the record about the findings of the ongoing investigation.”
Freeman added her office will continue to take a close look at all the evidence.
Calls and emails to Blitzer have not been returned.