Polk County Sheriff agrees to release records

Documents released by journalist reveals police department attempted to purge evidence from files and public record

by Timothy Charles Holmseth

Polk County Sheriff Bard Erdman has agreed to release  records that detail the activities surrounding the search of a hard-drive  conducted by a Polk   County investigator.

Sheriff Erdman contacted Timothy Charles Holmseth (this reporter throughout) by email  and advised him the process to fill his document request has begun.

Police Chief Michael Hedlund received a request from Holmseth for the  records on November 19, 2013 but has yet to turn them over.

The records are expected to contain vital information  regarding the ‘chain of evidence’ in what appears to be a warrant-less search  of Holmseth’s hard-drive.

The situation is exasperated by the fact that after law  enforcement found nothing illegal on the hard-drive, it was returned to  Holmseth with wires pulled out; inoperable.

Existing evidence already indicates a State Prosecutor is  aware of the illegal activity and attempted to cover it up.

On January 4, 2013 East Grand Forks City Attorney Ronald  Galstad, prosecuting Holmseth on behalf of the State of Minnesota, told Judge Tamara Yon that the  “Bureau of Criminal Apprehension” would not search Holmseth’s hard-drive  without a proper warrant – Galstad further claimed he would be requesting one.

Although there is no indication Attorney Galstad ever  obtained the required warrant, both the EGFPD and Polk County Sheriff’s Office  (PCSO) subsequently admitted that, two months later, they used a special  computer program to look through the hard-drive.

The search remained secret until September 30, 2013.

The issue would have likely gone un-noticed but Holmseth  began to ask questions after the EGFPD returned the hard-drive to him on April  26, 2013 – inoperable.

A close examination of the correspondences exchanged between  Holmseth and EGF Police Chief Michael Hedlund appear to reveal the Police Chief,  as well as the City Attorney, were being very careful with how they discussed  the subject – what they said – and to whom.

On August 10, 2013 Hedlund responded to a Complaint he  received from Holmseth on July 10. Hedlund addresses Holmseth’s complaint that  his hard-drive was ruined while in police custody. Hedlund advises Holmseth the  Police Department does not believe they are responsible for compensating  Holmseth. Hedlund ‘copied’ the letter to City Attorney Galstad.

However – in the August 10 letter, Chief Hedlund did not make  any mention whatsoever of the fact law enforcement had entered Holmseth’s  hard-drive and searched it. He also made no mention of the Sheriff’s Office  being involved.

On September 30, Holmseth contacted Hedlund by letter and  asked if the Police Department had created a ‘mirror copy’ of his hard-drive  while it was in custody.

Hedlund then changed his internal procedure. He replied to  Holmseth on September 30 (the same day) and advised him that law enforcement  had searched his hard-drive using a program that made no changes to it. Hedlund  referred to “investigators” but did not mention the PCSO.

However – Hedlund did NOT provide a copy of the September 30  letter to City Attorney Galstad.

Hedlund’s decision to exclude Galstad from receiving a copy  of the letter, which contained the admission that law enforcement searched the  hard-drive without a warrant, is an interesting choice – if not strategic.

The practice of withholding documents from Holmseth, an  experienced investigative reporter, did not begin in 2013.

MISCONDUCT AND  TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE

In 2011, Holmseth requested police incident reports that  contained information that would exonerate him of allegations being made out of  the state of Florida.

Holmseth tried three times to acquire the public records in  advance of a scheduled hearing in Florida,  but the EGFPD refused to turn the records over to him.

In 2012, Holmseth filed a Complaint to Hedlund regarding the  matter. Hedlund asked Holmseth to fill out the Freedom of Information form  again. He then provided Holmseth with copies of the police incident reports,  which he had requested in 2011.  

So – what really happened to the police incident reports  that Holmseth requested in 2011 but did not receive?

There is an answer; and the answer reveals the EGFPD is  infested with corruption and illegal activity. 

On December 14, 2013 Sgt. Chris Olson, EGFPD, along with  three other officers entered Holmseth’s home/office with a Search Warrant and  seized his computer and hard-drive.

During the execution of the Search Warrant, Sgt. Olson told  Holmseth there was a “white envelope” at the police station with his name on it  and suggested he go pick it up. Holmseth subsequently retrieved the envelope  and found it contained the police incident reports that he had requested in  2011.

The ‘print out’ date on the bottom of the Reports was dated  October of 2011. The Reports had been printed out – but not turned over to  Holmseth.

The act of printing out a document, and then hiding it, is a  common practice performed by corrupt officials. The objective is to create the  false appearance that the Freedom of Information request was being filled in  good faith, and the documents were simply misplaced. This allows corrupt  officials to monitor the situation and buy time before deciding whether or not  to turn them over or not.

Hedlund’s involvement appears to be an inescapable fact.  When Hedlund received Holmseth’s initial complaint about the police incident  reports, he asked Holmseth to fill out the Freedom of Information form again;  indicating that the first one (which Holmseth personally handed to Officer  Hart, EGFPD) was not in the file.

But there is a problem with that.

If the first FOI request form was not in the file; how did  somebody know to print the documents out (and then hide them) in the first  place?

This simple fact shows that any so-called ‘investigation’  conducted by Chief Hedlund was all for show and he is actively covering-up  illegal activity within the Department.

Many wonder what the motive might have been to hide the  records and prevent them from becoming part of a court file that ultimately  involves an investigative reporter’s work regarding a federal kidnapping of a  little girl.

There may be an answer for that as well.

Because Holmseth ultimately received two copies of the same  reports (Hedlund Copies and Olson Copies), he was able to compare them. He  carefully examined the contents of one particular police incident report.

They didn’t match. Although they should have been identical  – they were not. Vital information had been removed from the Olson Copy (the  copies Holmseth needed for the Florida  court hearing).

VIEW THE REPORTS THAT WERE CHANGED

HEDLUND COPY

OLSON COPY 

The information that was removed referred to even more  evidence – audio – of a call that the reporting officer (Mike Swang) apparently  thought was suspicious. The officer noted he forwarded the audio to Lt. Hajicek;  that information too was removed.

When Holmseth asked Hedlund about the audio he was told it  had been destroyed.

This is a developing story.

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