Gang Unit Members Took Seized Property
Published on August 21, 2009
by OfficialWire NewsDesk
St. PAUL, MN
Members of an elite anti-gang strike force in St. Paul, Minn., enhanced their lifestyles with property seized in raids, a former federal prosecutor alleged.
The Minnesota Public Safety Department appointed Andy Luger and retired FBI agent John Egelhof to lead an independent review of the Metro Gang Strike Force after a legislative audit criticized its forfeitures and management, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday.
"Our investigation found that many officers of the Metro Gang Strike Force followed the law and good police procedures," Luger said. "But others took money and property for their own personal use and engaged in unethical, egregious searches and seizures that had no connection to gangs or gang-related activity."
Luger said the findings were turned over to the FBI, which is conducting a separate investigation into the unit.
Among other things, Luger's investigation found that strike force personnel falsely reported valuable items had been destroyed, when evidence had, in fact, been taken for personal use. Also, members "repeatedly stopped individuals who had no connection to gang activity and seized money and property without any intent to file criminal charges and any reasonable evidence the individuals were connected to illegal activity," a Public Safety Department release on the findings said.
Poor supervision, an ill-defined mission and a lack of accountability all contributed to the problems in the strike force, as well as a failure to follow policies that usually occur in law enforcement agencies, Luger said. OfficialWire: Gang Unit Members Took Seized Property