Prosecutor convicted of obstruction of justice

MGN Online
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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A jury on Friday found a 73-year-old Pennsylvania prosecutor guilty of obstructing justice and misusing the power of his office by improperly intervening in criminal cases involving a 41-year-old woman who the prosecution says was his girlfriend.

Mercer County District Attorney Miles Karson was found guilty on 10 charges, including obstruction of government functions, officially oppressing an arrest or search warrant, and hindering prosecution.

Karson was accused of asking the woman's probation officer to not put her in jail after she acknowledged using heroin. He also allegedly tried to get a judge to release her on bond instead of jailing her in criminal cases by claiming to be a family friend when he was actually her boyfriend.

Karson, a Republican, was elected in 2015 in the largely rural county 60 miles (96.6 kilometers) north of Pittsburgh that borders Ohio.

He took the witness stand on Wednesday, insisting he was just trying to help her and didn't break the law, and denying the two had a romantic relationship.

Since he was charged by the state Attorney General's office in 2017, Karson had been silent on the accusations made against him, aside from a blanket denial of wrongdoing, until Wednesday's testimony, The Tribune Review reported.

Karson broke down in tears at one point after describing his military service in Vietnam, career as a lawyer and his two-decade battle with metastatic prostate cancer.

Karson lost his composure when his defense lawyer, Alexander Lindsay, started asking about the woman, Tonya Bulboff.

"Part of the problem of not having testosterone is sometimes you turn into a blubbering fool," Karson explained to the jury. He said he was committed to "making her better."

When Karson was charged in 2017, Bulboff was in state prison on a check-forgery case. She was released in June.

Bulboff testified for the prosecution that she and Karson had an "intimate" but not sexual relationship, the Sharon Herald reported.

Karson remains Mercer County's top law enforcement official.

After the verdict, prosecutors told Senior Common Pleas Judge H. William White that they are concerned about justice for the residents of Mercer County with Karson still in office, according to the Herald.

Neither the judge nor the attorney general's office has the power to order Karson out of office.

Lindsay said he has not yet discussed with Karson the possibility of him staying in office.

The judge said sentencing will be scheduled within 30 days.



 
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