By Addison Smith
A Justice Department prosecutor who helped secure last week’s indictment of former President Donald Trump was publicly reprimanded by a judge in 2009 for “gross negligence” in connection with secretly taping a defense lawyer and an investigator, an agency source has confirmed to Just The News.
The prosecutor, Karen Gilbert, is now serving as a deputy to Special Counsel Jack Smith, who on Thursday issued the 37-count indictment of Trump.
In the 2009 case, Gilbert was head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s narcotics division in Miami and was attempting to prosecute Dr. Ali Shaygan for allegedly prescribing medications illegally, court records show.
Gilbert and colleague in the case Sean Cronin launched a witness tampering investigation and got two witnesses to record conversations between Shaygan’s defense lawyer and the investigator, the records show.
However, according to a stinging ruling by U.S. District Judge Alan Gold, the pair failed to get authorization to tape the conversations and did not inform the defense team that the witnesses were “cooperating with the government,” thereby violating discovery obligations.
In addition, Gilbert didn’t inform her bosses that the duo had launched the investigation in violation of policy. When asked later about the matter in the sanctions hearing, she testified under oath that “she thought she had.”
The judge determined Gilbert was “grossly negligent in her treatment” of the “significant and unique witness tampering investigation against defense counsel” and said there was no basis to have even started the probe.
Gilbert was found to have failed to seek “necessary information” about the witness tampering investigation and to have failed to have gotten proper approval for it. She failed to “independently verify the basis for Cronin’s belief” that the witness probe was ever needed, according to records.
In the “Findings of Fact” part of Gold’s document, he said the probe happened because of “personal animus against the defense” on behalf of Cronin, who answered to Gilbert.
The judge also concluded Gilbert pursued the witness tampering investigation “despite no evidence of wrongdoing.”
Shaygan was eventually acquitted of all charges.
As a result of what the judge called the “bad faith” effort to prosecute Shaygan, he granted the doctor’s request for sanctions and entered a “public reprimand” against the U.S Attorney’s Office that specifically applied to Gilbert, Cronin and another prosecutor.
The Justice Department admitted at the time to “misconduct” and that it had made “serious mistakes” throughout the probe, but denied “bad faith” in the numerous policy and ethics violations.
Neither Gilbert nor the Justice Department responded to a request for comment for this story.