East metro beat: Patience hard after big raid on Stillwater mayor's business office

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2014 - 2:37 PM

 

Sunday marks one month since agents with the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department descended on the office of an accounting business owned by Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki. Armed with a search warrant, they covered the windows and spent the morning systematically removing boxes full of papers and at least one large computer tower.

The well-practiced efficiency with which the agents went about their work was impressive, as has been their stubborn silence in the ensuing weeks about the details of what they were looking for and, more importantly, who might be in trouble.

That’s not a criticism — it’s a source of frustration for a reporter who has spent at least part of each workday since then trying to pry out information about the case. It’s just the way it works. It’s the way it must work.

Judges don’t hand out search warrants on a whim, nor are investigators allowed to seek them without a clear and specific idea of what they are seeking. So while the federal agents had an inkling of what they might find in the raid, there is no doubt they have spent the past month seeing if whatever they seized connects the dots as they suspect, if there are new dots to be connected or if their assumptions about the dots were off base.

Harycki’s business, Customized Payroll Solutions, involves financial transactions, so it is very likely a complicated sorting-out process and one that will take time. There is kind of a “CSI effect” going on here, where investigations are perceived to be tidily wrapped up in less than an hour.

But as the agents have patiently responded during a month of pleading, whining and cajoling, this is going to take some time. In the interim, unfortunately, speculation is left unfettered.

The mayor has said only that the raid involved a former client. The agencies involved expend a lot of effort investigating fraud involving federal tax dollars.

That’s about all we know. For now.

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