Opinion

A betrayal of trust

This editorial appeared in the News & Record, Greensboro

Information in a State Bureau of Investigation warrant should lead to criminal charges against two former prosecutors and perhaps others.

Craig Blitzer, district attorney for Rockingham County, and Wallace Bradsher, DA for Caswell and Person counties, resigned this year as the SBI gathered evidence. The two hired each other's wives, putting them on the state payroll but requiring little, if any, work.

Blitzer's conduct was especially troubling, according to reporting by the News & Record's Danielle Battaglia and an SBI warrant dated in March but subsequently sealed for two months.

Without taking a leave of absence, Blitzer was enrolled in a 16-week law-enforcement training class, 40 hours per week, at Rockingham Community College last year. Blitzer's absence slowed the pace of prosecutions carried out by his office.

His wife, Cindy, was also studying. She was participating in a nursing program at South University in High Point while drawing a state salary.

She had other help, too. Craig Blitzer asked two of his employees do online course work for his wife. Kyle Ambrose, a victim-witness coordinator, told SBI agents he "spent two hours a week doing her homework and took quizzes and tests using both his personal and state computers," Battaglia reported. Spencer Morrow, an assistant district attorney, took an algebra course on Cindy Blitzer's behalf. "I didn't want to take the class," he told Battaglia. "I felt pressure to take it and felt really bad."

Employees shouldn't feel bad as long as they told SBI agents everything they know. The culprits are those who would pressure subordinates to do something unethical and who themselves were engaged in fraudulent behavior.

No one has been charged – yet – let alone convicted. But it is dishonest, and may rise to the level of criminal conduct, to:

  • Draw a salary while not reporting for work.
  • Make deals to put family members on the state payroll for no-show "jobs."
  • Pressure employees to participate in fraud, either by falsifying time cards or doing academic work in another's name.
  • Present someone else's academic work as one's own.

Did Craig Blitzer think he could run his office for the benefit of his family? He could not have regarded it as a public trust – not if he used his salary to pursue personal interests and asked employees to use their time to essentially work for his wife.

There must be consequences for both Blitzers. Possibly criminal charges and a loss of his license to practice law if wrongdoing is proven. As for her, South University should determine whether to revoke academic credits. If Cindy Blitzer did not personally meet the requirements for a nursing degree, she should not have it.

More will be heard about this. What's known already is enough to be disgusted.

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