Police used scheme involving Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force to gain illegal access to journalist’s hard-drive

East Grand Forks Police Department red flagged after State Auditor found the Department is habitually not reporting money from cars sold after seizures by Drug Task Force

by Timothy Charles Holmseth

As documents continue to be released, trouble for East Grand Forks Police Chief Michael Hedlund and City Attorney Ronald Galstad grow.

Reports released by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), as well as a report from the Minnesota State Auditor’s Office, are shedding new light on the disturbing conduct of the East Grand Forks Police Department (EGFPD) as the scandal surrounding the lawless activities of city officials continues to be exposed.

On December 14, 2012 the EGFPD, clad in bullet-proof vests and armed with weapons, slammed a Search Warrant into Timothy Charles Holsmeth’s chest as they barreled over him to seize his journalism equipment, computer, hard-drive, cell phones, cameras, discs, credit card numbers, and U.S. Mail.

The utterly bizarre issuance of a search warrant to an EGF police officer to ‘retain’ Holmseth’s journalism equipment was a mystery – until today.

The raid had been conducted under the assertion it was a drug and gang task force operation. It was a hoax perpetuated by a corrupt local police department upon a Judge.

Holmseth, an independent journalist (this reporter throughout) had reported the EGFPD and City Attorney to the Minneapolis FBI in 2012 after he was targeted for intimidation and a malicious prosecution surrounding a journalism project he endeavored regarding a missing child from Florida named HaLeigh Cummings.

Evidence incriminating City officials has become overwhelming.

On January 4, 2013 City Attorney Ronald Galstad told District Judge Tamara Yon in open court that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would not search Holmseth’s seized computer without a proper warrant directing it.

Essentially – they had a computer they could hold – but couldn’t search it.

Sgt. Michael Norland, special investigations, PCSO testified in court that in March of 2013 he conducted a forensic search on the hard-drive at the request of Officer Aeisso Schrage, EGFPD.

Documents generated by Norland regarding his search activities state he was also contacted by Lt. Rodney Hajicek, EGFPD regarding the search.

City Attorney Galstad, Lt. Hajicek, and Aeisso Schrage were all involved in requesting the sheriff’s office search a hard-drive; knowing they had no warrant. Whether or not Norland believed a warrant existed is not yet clear because his Report makes no mention of a warrant.

Norland noted in his records that after he returned the hard-drive to Schrage, and advised him nothing illegal was on the hard-drive, Schrage returned later with the hard-drive, and asked him to make a copy of it.

The propensity by Schrage and his superiors toward misconduct and illegal activity is staggering. Despite the City Attorney having already admitted they had no warrant to search the hard-drive, and, Norland advising that nothing illegal had been found on the hard-drive; Schrage still wanted a copy made.

The computer was ordered by the court to be returned and on April 26, 2013 it was given back to Holmseth – inoperable. Holmseth then began addressing his grievances with City officials and demanding answers.

While the Department is currently stonewalling a Freedom of Information request by Holmseth; facts are steadily coming out.

Facts and circumstances have now begun to emerge that show the EGFPD’s troubles are not limited to the scrutiny of one independent journalist, or the illegal ‘sneak and peek’ of a hard-drive by rogue officers and a panicking prosecutor.

Attorney Galstad and Chief Hedlund have other problems.

In 2012 an independent auditor for the State of Minnesota, Greg Hierlinger, CPA, had been tasked with oversight functions for the Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force and ultimately submitted a report to the State Auditor.

The EGFPD is a member of the Task Force, and Hierlinger’s report contained red flags about the shady activities of the Department. Hierlinger addressed concerns regarding financial irregularities connected to the sale of seized automobiles by the EGFPD.

Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto made the findings of the independent audit public through a published letter to Kristin Lail, grants coordinator, Minnesota Department of Public Safety; as well as the Oversight Committee, Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force.

“We noted one vehicle forfeiture that had been sold by the East Grand Forks Police Department in August 2012, but had not been reported to our office at the time of our testing in November 2012,” Hierlinger said.

The report further indicates the irregularities with the EGFPD are not uncommon and required special attention by investigators.

“Based on discussion with the Commander and the Administrative Assistant, this is not unusual and is due to the East Grand Forks Police Department not providing information on sold vehicles to the City of Crookston Finance Department or the Task Force on a timely basis,” Hierlinger said.

But – irregular activities by the EGFPD appear to be the norm, and its ranking members appear to have a lot of friends in low places. Suspicion is mounting that EGF city officials are making decisions and prosecutorial judgments based upon out-of-state relationships and influences that are by any standard – illegal.

Clues for state and federal investigators may be found within the Department’s obsession with Timothy Holmseth and his work as an investigative journalist and author.

In May of 2009 Holmseth was conducting interviews with immediate family members of a missing child from Florida named HaLeigh Cummings. Holmseth, an award-winning reporter, had conducted countless hours of recorded interviews with family members of the missing child, police officers, and lawyers.

Police reports on record at the EGFPD contain names of various individuals that appeared to spontaneously develop relationships with leaders in the Department – all based upon Timothy Holmseth’s journalism on the Cummings kidnapping.

Holmseth had become the pet project of the EGFPD and Kidnapping, Inc.

Indeed – somebody did not like the fact Holmseth learned so much about the missing child’s disappearance, the names of the people that were really responsible for the child being gone, and the blueprint for a human trafficking operation that was provided to him.

Holmseth had upset people that were obsessed with other people’s children – particularly – they were obsessed with taking other people’s children away from them. Five child protection reports were filed against Holmseth between May and August, 2009. He received telephone calls from strangers warning him the State of Minnesota was going to take his children away if he didn’t keep his mouth shut.

Holmseth became the target of harassing and threatening communications, but soon found the EGFPD would not investigate the source of the phone calls – even after he successfully traced the phone calls through a feature provided by Midcontinent Communications.

Holmseth was eventually told he was going to be shot or ‘disappeared’ by the Mob.

But – although Hedlund’s Department had no interest in protecting Holmseth, they had a definite interest in him, per say.

In June of 2009, Lt. Rodney Hajicek, EGFPD, telephoned Holmseth at the request of a company based out of Florida called Xentel, Inc. Hajicek advised Holmseth that Xentel did not want him to publish a story he was working on regarding the missing child.

Holmseth, an experienced news reporter, had discovered a Photoshopped picture of the missing child that was used to solicit donations on the Web from the generous public, had run right through the email inbox of a woman named Donna Wagoner, Xentel, Inc.

Holmseth also possesses a photo taken by Donna Wagoner of HaLeigh Cummings’s mother, Crystal Sheffield, and her entire team, which had assembled in Palatka, Florida to hide HaLeigh Cummings; profit from her Amber Alert; and set up patsy’s for her disappearance.

At the same time Hajicek was leaning on Holmseth at the request of Wagoner and others – the FBI in Florida was visiting Xentel based upon information they received from Holmseth. The feds were familiar with Xentel – the company is notorious for charity scams and has been sued by the Attorney General’s Office in at least six different states.

The EGFPD has an interesting flavor in those which they seek to assist with favors – such as false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Despite growing unpopular with the EGFPD, Holmseth withstood the onslaught of telephonic threats, horrendous defamation, and cyber-stalking. He continued to report on the Cummings kidnapping, because he was told the kidnapping operation was ongoing, and children being moved through the underground are sometimes hidden in places such as basements, closets, and storm cellars.

After several years – Holmseth had not capitulated.

Holmseth then began to receive strange, door-knock visits, from police officers employed by the EGFPD. On several occasions, he opened his door to find an officer asking if he was smoking “pot” – a question he thought was extremely odd.

Holmseth is a recovering alcoholic of 17 years and the suggestion he does any drugs is an utter absurdity to anyone that knows him.

One of the officers involved in the door-knock scheme was Aeisso Schrage, (who Holmseth would eventually learn was) a member of the Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force.

The door-knocks, wherein Schrage asked Holmseth about the smell of marijuana, would later appear in his Affidavit to the District Judge requesting a search warrant for Holmseth’s computer.

The City of East Grand Forks Attorney and the EGFPD exploited their role on the Pine-to-Prairie Task Drug Force, and placed Holmseth under a fake drug ‘investigation’ – a dishonest method they would use in December of 2012 to support a bogus petition to obtain a warrant to gain access to his computer and journalism equipment.

When the computer hard-drive was returned via court order on April 26, 2013 it would not boot and wires had been pulled out inside of it.

Serious questions are building regarding the Police Department’s sudden interest in Holmseth’s hard-drive; his collection of evidence about a missing person; and the Department’s desire to avoid prosecution regarding financial irregularities discovered by the Office of the State Auditor overseeing the Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force.

This is a developing story.

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