Informant sues BCA agent, claims he sexually assaulted her

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 10:09 PM

A woman who was acting as a confidential informer has sued an agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, claiming he sexually assaulted her and pressured her to text him nude photos of herself if she wanted his help to gain legal status to stay in the country.

Transcripts of alleged text messages in which the sender asks her to send “hot,” explicit photos of herself were provided to the Star Tribune by her attorney.

“I feel that he used me,” the 35-year-old Brooklyn Park woman, who speaks Spanish and spoke through an interpreter, said in an interview. “I risked my life with all that help [as an informant]. … In the end he cared less about me. … He used my body for his own pleasure.”

BCA spokesman Bruce Gordon called the allegations against the narcotics special agent “serious,” adding, “the agent was placed on administrative leave, and we asked the Ramsey County sheriff to investigate as soon as we became aware of them.”

The BCA agent’s attorney, Peter Wold, contended that his client was “the subject of extortion” by the woman, who was seeking help to get legal status. “I have no doubt there was no sexual contact,” Wold said.

As for the alleged explicit text messages, Wold said, “I don’t know what you are looking at or the context you are referring to, but nothing like that was initiated by him.”

The alleged victim said she was born in Mexico and has lived in the United States for 14 years. Her attorney allowed the interview on the condition that the newspaper not print her name.

The Star Tribune is not publishing the name of the agent because he’s being accused in a civil suit and has not been criminally charged.

Working undercover

The suit refers to her as Jane Doe because she was a confidential informant with information that led to several large drug busts and she “fears significant harm from others if her true identity is revealed.”

The woman said around September 2010 she was smoking methamphetamine at a friend’s house in St. Paul when it was raided and 2 ounces of meth was found.

She said the agent told her if she did not become an informant, she’d be arrested and get five years in prison. She became his informant.

Over the next several years, she functioned as a “snitch” on several big drug cases. She said she was paid a total of about $12,000 for her work.

In June 2012, she said, she got a call from the agent, asking if she was alone at home. Forty-five minutes later, she said, he showed up in the parking lot of her apartment building, driving his official BCA vehicle.

Believing he wanted her for undercover work, she got in his car and they began driving.

She said she suspected he was drinking, and he put his hand on her thigh. “Stop, you’re drunk,” she said, according to the lawsuit. She claimed he began to touch her sexually while he was driving, then parked the car, and the sexual assault continued.

“His contact was completely unwanted … throughout the encounter,” the suit said.

She alleges in July 2012 she received “many text messages of an intimate, personal and sexual nature” from him. He told her to take and send “hot” nude photos of herself, which she did “under duress and coercion as she believed she had no choice if she wanted him to help her with her immigration status,” the suit said.

The sexual texting continued into February of this year, she said.

“I want to see photos,” he texted her on Feb. 13, describing the explicit photo he wanted to see, according to transcripts.

“Are you crazy?” she wrote back.

On March 3, she texted him, asking if he had signed the legal papers she had sent him that would help her gain legal status. “Nothing in the mail,” he responded. On March 11, he allegedly wrote, “Send me something hot.” And on March 13, he asked her for “a hot picture,” according to transcripts.

In the meantime, the woman’s legal status worsened. According to her attorney, Phillip Fishman, she was placed in removal status from the United States in March after a domestic altercation and she was briefly jailed.

Because of her work as an informer, she could be killed by a Mexican drug cartel if she is deported, but the agent did not intervene on her behalf, Fishman said.

After she hired Fishman as her attorney, he took her to the Ramsey County attorney’s office to discuss the case because it was believed the alleged sex assault occurred in St. Paul. It is now believed the assault happened in Hennepin County, Fishman said, but Dennis Gerhardstein, a spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney’s office, said the investigation has yet to determine that.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office contacted immigration authorities to delay removal proceedings until the criminal investigation and potential trial of the agent is complete, Gerhardstein said. Under immigration law, Fishman said, his client could be entitled to a visa for her work as an informant. Because the agent could face criminal charges, she may also be eligible for a visa under a provision that rewards crime victims who give substantial information to authorities, he said.

“This is police corruption at its worst, abuse of power by a sworn officer,” he said. The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle.

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