Feds: No Strike Force charges

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2011 - 9:56 PM

The Justice Department has informed the FBI that it does not plan more prosecutions of the former Metro Gang Strike Force.

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute anyone else in connection with the scandal-plagued Metro Gang Strike Force, the multi-jurisdictional law enforcement unit that was abolished nearly two years ago.

"We have closed our case, and it is our understanding that the Department of Justice is not going to prosecute anyone else," said Special Agent Steve Warfield, media coordinator for the FBI's Minneapolis office.

Last year, the Justice Department prosecuted Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen, a member of the Strike Force, on charges of violating a teenager's civil rights by kicking the boy in the head in Crystal in 2008. A jury found Andersen not guilty.

The FBI concluded its investigation last year and handed its reports over to the Justice Department, where the case had remained. Warfield said Justice officials recently told the FBI it was closing the case.

In May 2009, Michael Campion, Minnesota's commissioner of public safety, asked the FBI to investigate the Strike Force after a Legislative Auditor's report uncovered a series of problems. Those included missing cash and cars seized in raids.

The report said the Strike Force failed to develop internal controls that would ensure it properly safeguarded or accounted for seized cash and other property. Auditors found nearly $400,000 of seized cash in a property room safe, dating to 2000.

Campion called the report "significant, serious and disturbing."

Hours after the report was issued and Strike Force activities temporarily suspended, members of the force were found shredding documents and carrying materials out of the Strike Force offices.

While the FBI began one investigation, Campion authorized a second one by former federal prosecutor Andy Luger and retired FBI agent John Egelhof. It concluded that Strike Force members took home property seized in raids, and that minorities may have been unfairly targeted.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department assumed control of the federal inquiry, removing it from the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.

After the FBI ended its inquiry in 2010, its findings were turned over to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, for possible state charges.

Freeman announced last September that he would not file charges against the Strike Force, citing major obstacles to the investigation, including the unit's substandard handling of records and evidence and the refusal of 29 of the former force officers and employees to talk to investigators.

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382

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