A grand jury indicted former district attorney candidate and Catawba County lawyer Shawn Clark on Monday on extortion and obstruction of justice charges.
Clark — who last year lost a District 25 Attorney Republican primary by less than 250 votes — is charged with two counts of extortion and one count of obstruction of justice. Accusations surround a series of back-and-forth court battles between Clark and a former client a few months prior to the May 2010 primary.
The indictments, which were filed by Senior Deputy Attorney General James J. Coman, follow a long-term investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.
The charges accuse Clark of attempting to cover up an alleged sexual relationship with former client Tiffany Turnmire. Clark represented Turnmire in a 2007 domestic violence custody battle and in a domestic violence case in 2009.
Clark was sued by Turnmire's husband, Tim, for alienation of affection. That suit came in January 2010 — shortly after Clark announced his intention to seek election — and it claimed the attorney had a sexual relationship with Turnmire during the summer of 2009. The lawsuit claimed Clark maintained an affair with Turnmire and paid to fly her to visit him in Las Vegas.
Clark filed a countersuit against Tiffany Turnmire for libel, slander and intentional inflection of emotional distress. At the time, Clark told The O-N-E that he was trying to rescue Turnmire from a violent situation when he flew her to Las Vegas for a weekend.
"I never touched her," he told The O-N-E, arguing the accusations were political in nature. Tim Turnmire offered to drop the suit if Clark met demands. "His first demand was withdraw from the DA's race."
In March 2010, Turnmire filed a case against Clark, claiming she did have a sexual relationship while she was a client.
Indictments released Monday accuse Clark of threatening Turnmire and his former secretary Terri Edwards to lie about the alleged sexual relationship. Clark is also accused of drafting false documents used to “defraud the court” and defeat lawsuits brought about by Tim Turnmire after he learned about the affair.
According to the indictments, Clark told Turnmire he wanted her to deny that they engaged in a sexual relationship during the time that he represented her.
“The reason for asking Ms. Turnmire to do this was that in the Fall of 2009 he learned that Ms. Turnmire’s husband was planning on filing an Alienation of Affection lawsuit and was seeking damages against (Clark),” according to the indictments.
Indictments allege Clark also threatened Edwards in March 2010 to cover up the affair in court. Edwards, who at that time was Clark’s legal secretary, is the wife of District Court Judge C. Thomas Edwards.
“When Ms. Edwards advised (Clark) that she would not put her hand on The Bible and lie for anyone, he became extremely agitated with Ms. Edwards and advised her she was his only ‘loose end’ and that he would not lose his family or law license over the issues he was facing, and if she did not do what he requested ‘then you know I’m going to have to kill you,’” according to the indictments.
Clark is also accused of drafting a false affidavit for Turnmire in November 2009 that was used to deny he and Turnmire had sexual relations. The state says the false affidavit was also used to defeat allegations pursued by Tim Turnmire.
“Such affidavit feloniously obstructed justice because it was drafted by (Clark) for the purpose of deceiving, and with an intent to defraud the court by knowingly and falsely denying that Ms. Turnmire and (Clark) had engaged in a sexual relationship during time he represented her…” according to the indictments.
Clark did not immediately return a call Monday from The O-N-E.
The N.C. State Bar Association also did not immediately return a phone call to comment on the status of Clark’s law license.
Clark, a St. Stephens High School graduate, has been a licensed attorney since 1997, primarily working on criminal defense cases. He has owned his own law firm since 2001.
If Clark turns himself in this week, he will appear in court for a first appearance either this Friday or next, according to court procedure.
It is unclear how long the SBI has investigated the case.
D.W. Mayes, SBI assistant special agent in charge (ASAC), is listed as a witness on all three of Clark’s indictments. Mayes is one of seven SBI ASACs that answer to the state’s special agent in charge.
This story includes information from previous O-N-E interviews.