CALDWELL -- A jury will now decide whether former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak illegally took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the county.
Closing arguments were this afternoon, and the jury began deliberating just before 4 p.m. They finished up at 6 p.m. and will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday after taking a break for Election Day.
Bujak is charged with misuse of public money. The state alleges he illegally profited from a prosecuting contract with the city of Nampa.
Prosecutors say Bujak took money paid by the city of Nampa for personal use, and more importantly, say the county commissioners never intended for it to be this way.
They say Bujak was elected almost exactly four years ago and was the county's golden boy, the great promise for Canyon County. They say the county trusted him to manage prosecution services, and the big contract with Nampa. But they say he broke the trust, misleading the county about why he should manage the payments through his trust accounts, and they say the money was never his to take.
From the beginning, the money from this contract was coming from the people of Canyon County to Canyon County's government to help fund the government that is otherwise funded by taxpayers. And indeed, this is all taxpayers money, said prosecuting attorney Bill Thompson.
Bujak, who is representing himself, says the commissioners were aware he may profit, and says the money was not public because the funds were converted when, as agreed, it went from the city of Nampa to his trust accounts, and not directly to the county. Further, he claims he tried to sort things out and make payments -- and he says he left the valuable contract when, in his words, he was forced out of office.
It breaks my heart because the Nampa contract started with a vision to do good for Canyon County, and it started as a way to give salary bumps to my people. And I wasn't going to stay in Canyon County and argue with the county commissioners about how much money I needed to pay by September 30th over salary bumps for my people. So I walked away signing over $1.8 million to the county on my way out, said Bujak.
Once this trial is over, Bujak has other pending legal matters, including whether he falsified evidence in this case. That is set for trial later this year.