October 12, 2018 06:32 PM
Hennepin County Deputy Attorney David Brown said Friday that an Eden Prairie police detective lied about a search warrant and prosecutors are now taking action.
A release later Friday said 32 cases will be dismissed. Three of those cases involve individuals in prison. Defense attorneys have been notified in 11 more cases in which the detective was a peripheral witness
Brown said the detective in question is Travis Serafin and that the matter has been referred to the McLeod County Attorney's office to review for possible criminal charges.
Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announcing it will relook at old cases after discovering an Eden Prairie officer lied on a search warrant. pic.twitter.com/qJPDKLB1Bt
Brown called the situation devastating, saying he had never seen anything like it in his career.
"Trust in our officers and the exceptional job they do, and trust in our prosecutors, is everything," he said. "So when something like this happens we know we have an obligation and take whatever steps we need to right away."
Brown said it was discovered that Serafin lied about a search warrant in a 2015 case. He had reportedly obtained a warrant to search a home as part of a drug investigation in which a large amount of heroin and some fentanyl was discovered inside a residence.
But Brown said he allegedly had not obtained a search warrant for a vehicle, in which drugs were also found. Then he reportedly fraudulently provided a warrant for the vehicle later.
"Detective Serafin's behavior here is wrong and inexcusable," Brown said. "It's also baffling to us because the legal search of the home in the case that led to it provided more than enough evidence for our case. If he had been honest, we simply would've agreed that the drugs found in the car couldn't be used. The fair trial of a defendant depends upon the truthful testimony of the witnesses. That did not happen here."
The defendant in that case, Timothy Holmes, faced drug-related charges, as well as a charge of third-degree murder, in the death of an individual who had died of an overdose.
Holmes' attorney, Frederick Goetz, issued a statement Friday:
"We are aware of the findings they are certainly very, very serious," it read. "We are in the process of evaluating how they will impact Mr. Holmes’ case and are actively considering all options. We expect that this issue will be addressed in district court shortly and that there will be subsequent filings, but the exact content and details of those filings at this point I can't say."
In cases where Serafin was a critical witness, the county attorney's office said five had already been sent to diversion and will simply be expunged. Letters were sent to defense attorneys in 17 cases, inviting them to make a motion to vacate the conviction and the county attorney's office will then dismiss those cases.
And four active warrants have been canceled and the cases will be dismissed.
In addition, of the 14 cases where prosecutors believe Serafin was only a peripheral witness, three have been sent to diversion. They will be dismissed and the record expunged. In the remaining 11 cases, letters will be sent to defense attorneys advising them of the alleged misconduct.
Eden Prairie Police Chief Greg Weber released a statement on the matter Friday morning:
"As a result of receiving the information released by the Hennepin County Attorney, and in accordance with Eden Prairie Police Department procedures, an administrative investigation is underway," it read.
"Pursuant to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, no further information regarding this active investigation is available at this time.
"The Eden Prairie Police Department holds officers to extremely high ethical standards. The Department also affords officers time for due process if their actions are called into question.
"Although it is difficult for me not to provide further comment on an issue involving the Eden Prairie Police Department, it is important for our organization to follow appropriate protocol."
Meanwhile, the executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, which represents officers in the Eden Prairie Police Department, cautioned that Serafin is entitled to due process.
"We are concerned anytime questions are raised about a member of our law enforcement community," LELS executive director Sean Gormley said in a statement.
"However, we caution against making a rush to judgement. It is important that we recognize Officer Serafin's right to due process, a right afforded to all citizens who are accused of wrongdoing. LELS will look into this matter to ensure that any actions taken are based on a full and complete understanding of the facts involved."
KSTP will have full coverage online, and during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Midday beginning at 11 a.m.
Updated: October 12, 2018 06:32 PM
Created: October 12, 2018 09:24 AM
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