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
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.