Prosecuting Attorney Removed in Montgomery County
MONTGOMERY CITY - Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney Lee Elliott was barred from serving in that position today by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Keith Sutherland. That move came after Attorney General Chris Koster filed a petition to remove Elliott from his elected post for "violation of his duties as prosecutor."
KOMU obtained a letter sent by the Attorney General's office to Elliott on February 25, 2011. In that letter, Assistant Attorney General Theodore Bruce writes, "I am sad to say that our paths cross under unpleasant circumstances again. Our office was appointed special prosecutor for Warren County to investigate possible criminal conduct that involves you in your role as prosecutor...I've essentially completed the investigation I think necessary to determine how to proceed."
On Thursday, a call to the Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney's office uncovered that staff learned just that morning of Elliott's suspension and were told Mike Wright, prosecuting attorney from neighboring Warren County, will serve as special prosecutor for Montgomery County until further notice.
On March 7, 2011, Elliott entered an appearance in the Montgomery County Circuit Court as the defense attorney for Jarod Hazel in a traffic case. Hazel recieved a speeding ticket for travelling 15 miles per hour over the speed limit.
"Normally, part-time prosecuting attorneys can, in fact, represent defendants in traffic cases in jurisdictions where they are not serving as prosecutors," said Mike Wright. "And under no circumstances can a prosecuting attorney serve as a defense attorney in criminal cases for any defendants, regardless of jurisdiction."
That is just the latest in a string of questionable behavior by Elliott. In December, sources said he rendered legal advice to Lenny Gott, an alderman from Bellflower, Mo., in a felony drug case. Elliott also served as the city attorney for Bellflower. During that time, Elliott was also a prosecutor.
"Mr. Elliott violated his oath of office and the public trust when he appeared on behalf of a defendant in a criminal proceeding and encouraged the judge to enter a favorable judgment to a criminal defendant," Attorney General Koster said in a statement regarding Elliott's traffic court appearance. "He was elected and is required by his oath to represent no party in a criminal matter other than the state."