A jury found John Bujak not guilty of embezzling more than $300,000 of public money from Canyon County Friday.
Bujak said he was tired and relieved after the verdict was read in Third District Court at the Canyon County Courthouse in Caldwell.
The former Canyon County Prosecutor was charged with grand theft, later amended to misuse of public funds, in 2011. The charge claimed he took the money from proceeds from the Nampa prosecution contract. Bujak argued the money was his to profit from and the county commissioners agreed it was profit. The prosecution argued no such agreement was made and Bujak tricked the commissioners into believing he would hold the money until the county billed him for it.
“I personally thought if you paid attention to the evidence this is the right verdict,” Bujak said.
The jury left the courtroom to deliberate at noon and came back with its verdict at about 4 p.m.
Bujak and family members were jubilant outside the courtroom after the verdict. They talked on cell phones to spread the news.
Bujak said he had little to say and would make a public announcement soon.
Special Prosecutor Bill Thompson said he was glad a verdict was reached. The first time the case was tried in November the trial ended in a hung jury.
“The people of Canyon County have spoken,” Thompson said. “We don't necessarily agree with it.”
The verdict brings at least partial closure to a controversy that has rocked the county for more than two years. Bujak acquire the Nampa non-felony prosecution contract his first year in office. He then got the county commissioners and the city of Nampa to agree to have payments for the contract made out to him. Bujak argued Nampa officials were concerned the money would be used for something other than contract purposes and therefore wanted Bujak to keep it in a trust. But the county commissioners and the prosecution argued that was never the case.
Bujak still has a trial pending on felony charges of preparation of false evidence and computer crime connected to the misuse of public funds case.