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• Failure to document inventory of seized property.
• Failure to document evidence properly.
• Commingling of task force receipts and disbursements in one account.
• Insufficient reconciliation process for monitoring cash accounts.
Lt. Bryon Fuerst, who heads the Anoka-Hennepin task force, acknowledged that the number of problems cited looks bad on paper. But he said the findings “have nothing to do with missing money, missing drugs or mishandling forfeitures. Ours was sloppy paperwork and based on this we have put some procedures into place that will prevent this type of oversight.”
Gordon said that interim state coordinator Brian Marquardt, a supervisor with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is working with the task forces to implement corrective action plans. A “full site visit” by public safety staff will follow and another audit will be done in nine to 12 months, he said.
The Metro Strike Force was abolished in 2009 after a series of revelations that included missing cash and evidence, hundreds of vehicles and other items seized without proper forfeiture notices, and a lavish trip to Hawaii by six officers.
The Strike Force ended up paying out $3 million in a class-action suit.
Investigations after the Strike Force’s demise concluded it lacked a strong monitoring system and that its executive board provided insufficient oversight. The Department of Public Safety vowed to tighten task force controls. The Legislature put in place a new Violent Crime Coordinating Council and mandated tough rules on handling of funds, forfeitures and evidence.
Bob Bushman, state coordinator for the Violent Crime Council, announced last August that he planned to retire. But seven months later, and three months after he retired, he has yet to be replaced.
Bushman normally would have met with the task forces after the audits to see that problems were corrected, but that job has fallen to Marquardt.
A finalist to replace him, Kent Bailey, a supervisory special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency in Minneapolis, was recommended by council members but was not chosen by Dohman, the commissioner. Gordon, the department spokesman, said he was prohibited from saying why Bailey was not picked, but said selection of a coordinator “is still in the process.”
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224