One member of the Metro Gang Strike Force allegedly stored illegal drugs in his file cabinet.
The force's office manager was being investigated in connection with the disappearance of several watches.
Also probed was the sale of a throne-like chair, seized in a raid, to a Strike Force official to give to his wife.
These are among the leads that internal affairs officers from three law enforcement agencies have pursued as investigations quietly continue into the activities of the members of the defunct and disgraced Metro Gang Strike Force.
Because the FBI is conducting a separate criminal investigation, it has declined to provide law enforcement agencies with files it has obtained. Those agencies have had to file data requests with the lame-duck Strike Force advisory board.
The Star Tribune obtained copies of the law enforcement inquiries under the Minnesota Data Practices statute.
Some of those involved have already been disciplined. Former Strike Force officer David Garman was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. Another Minneapolis officer on the Strike Force, Randy Olson, resigned while under investigation. The Strike Force's office manager, Cindy Gehlsen, was fired by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department.
Two Ramsey County deputies and a Minneapolis police officer were suspended. No St. Paul officers have been disciplined, though that department's internal affairs inquiry continues, said Sgt. Paul Schnell, St. Paul police spokesman.
The Strike Force was formally disbanded on July 17 by state Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion after a series of allegations of misconduct.
On Dec. 2, Jim Decowski of the St. Paul police internal affairs unit e-mailed Kori Land, the Strike Force advisory board's attorney, asking for "files about [the Strike Force] shutdown and dope being found in filing cabinet belonging to" a Strike Force officer, a member of the St. Paul Police Department.
It is not known whether the officer faces discipline in connection with the drug allegations, so the Star Tribune is not naming him. Reached by phone, the officer declined to comment.
Decowski also sought information on nine cases involving the same Strike Force officer going back to 2002. All appear to be drug cases. Drugs were stored in the evidence room of the Strike Force offices in New Brighton, but it was not a secure room, and some officers expressed concerns about leaving evidence there, sources say.
In a separate inquiry in October, Brenda Brozik, an inspector for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, sought information on some missing watches in connection with "an internal affairs investigation into alleged misconduct" by Gehlsen.
"I am looking for copies of reports related to the Strike Force case that involved missing watches (50)," she wrote.
The Strike Force sent her reports about a 2006 drug raid on a house on the 200 block of Irving Avenue N. in Minneapolis in which watches were seized.
In their investigative report on the Strike Force for the Department of Public Safety, former assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger and retired FBI agent John Egelhof said 20 watches worth as much as $2,000 were missing from the evidence room. The report said a Strike Force employee, whom the report did not identify, wrote in a case file that the watches were given to a jeweler to be sold. But the jeweler never received them.
The report also said that an officer reported seeing two unidentified Strike Force employees and a relative of an employee in a conference room, looking at the watches. One of them held a watch to their wrist, the report said. "Upon seeing the officer in charge of the case watching them, one of the employees stated they were not doing anything wrong," Luger and Egelhof wrote.
Gehlsen was fired in November for several cited reasons including mishandling evidence, although it is unknown if the missing watches were a factor.
Decowski of the St. Paul police internal affairs unit also sought information on a case in which Strike Force officers seized $4,500 from two Honduran men in the Minneapolis auto impound lot. No drugs were found in their possession.
Sgt. Jason Case of the Minneapolis police internal affairs unit sought information from the force on Nov. 24 about a "large chair." Luger and Egelhof wrote in their report that a Strike Force officer bought the chair for $190 as a present for his wife.
Sources have told the Star Tribune that Lt. James Heimerl, assistant Strike Force commander, was being investigated for buying the forfeited chair for his wife, who refinishes furniture. It was a popular chair at Strike Force headquarters; officers enjoyed being photographed in it because a bundle of cash had been found under the upholstery. Ron Ryan, Strike Force commander, was particularly fond of sitting in it because it portrayed an image of power, a source said.
Staff writer Paul McEnroe contributed to this article.
Randy Furst • 612-673-7382