BCA enters investigation regarding journalist’s hard-drive

by Timothy Charles Holmseth

The East Grand Forks Police  Department (EGFPD) does not want the public to see the records generated  surrounding the search and seizure of Timothy Charles Holmseth’s hard-drive.

It may not matter, though.

Investigations regarding the  case are no longer limited to the EGFPD or Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO)  and a special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is involved.

Records released by the  Sheriff’s Office reveal Holmseth’s property was seized under the guise it was  an operation of the Pine-to-Prairie Drug Task Force.

Holmseth is an investigative  journalist and author with no ties or connections whatsoever to criminal  activity.

Shortly after the seizure of  Holmseth’s equipment, EGF City Attorney Ronald Galstad told a District Judge  that the BCA would not search the hard-drive without another Warrant.

Galstad’s mention of the BCA  on January 4, 2013 is a matter of court record. Galstad and/or his officers had either been in contact with the BCA, or, Galstad wanted the Judge to believe they had been.

During a court  hearing on November 25, 2013 Galstad appeared to be trying to distant himself from  his earlier mentioning of the BCA. He brought the BCA up with no reason or prompting while addressing the Court.

Although Galstad knew on  January 4 that another Warrant was required to search the hard-drive, it was held  in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office until it was returned to Holmseth on April  26, 2013.

It appears a warrant-less  search took place while the hard-drive was in the custody of the Sheriff. It was  searched by Polk County Investigator Sgt. Michael Norland.

Norland testified he was  asked to search the hard-drive by Officer Aeisso Schrage, Pine-to-Prairie Task  Force.

Acoring to Norland, the search  of the hard-drive revealed it contained nothing illegal.

Norland states that after he  gave it back to Schrage, the Officer (Schrage) returned with it, and asked him  (Norland) to make a copy of it. Norland said he did not make a copy because he  did not have time.

On April 26, 2013 the  hard-drive was returned to Holmseth with wires pulled out and it had been  rendered permanently inoperable. 

On November 19, 2013 Holmseth  submitted a Freedom of Information request to EGF Police Chief Michael Hedlund  for the records surrounding the search.

Hedlund delayed the matter with  several excuses; and then completely ceased communications. Holmseth submitted  the same request to City Attorney Ronald Galstad during a court hearing on  November 25. Galstad appeared defensive and defiant.

The records being withheld will  show the chain of evidence after the hard-drive was taken from Holmseth.

Serious discrepancies and  irregularities are emerging in this case, which may be the reason City  officials are withholding the records from the public.

The BCA will not be required to play any games with Hedlund or Galstad.

This is a developing story.

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