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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Metro Gang Strike Force officers took his $4,500; now he's got $70,000

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4 Comments:

Anonymous PIONEER PRESS said...

Illegal immigrant who was target of gang unit settles seizure lawsuit
By David Hanners
dhanners@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 04/29/2010 12:18:19 AM CDT


The insurance company for the Twin Cities' defunct Metro Gang Strike Force has quietly settled a case of an illegal immigrant who said officers stole his money in 2008.

Dagoberto Rodriguez-Cardona was paid $70,000 to settle the state court case last month, attorneys in the case confirmed.

A special state panel that investigated the scandal-plagued police unit reported last year that the Rodriguez-Cardona's case was "deeply troubling." The officers took $4,500 from the Honduran native, who now faces deportation, but never charged him with a crime.

Phillip Fishman, the attorney who filed the suit, said the settlement was fair for a "significant legal-rights violation."

"I think it reflected an appropriate sum for a violation of a constitutional right, an unauthorized Fourth and Fourteenth amendment violation," he said. "It was a very significant reflection of the wrongdoing of five police officers who really took this man's money and never gave him any notice, no forfeiture receipt, no date to go to court. There were numerous violations."

Joe Flynn, an attorney with the law firm that represented the strike force, the city of Minneapolis and the unnamed strike force members, said the money was paid by the League of Minnesota Cities' insurance trust. The Hennepin County court file of the case shows the case was dismissed March 12 at the request of the plaintiff and defendants, but the file doesn't cite the amount of the settlement.

"This encompasses all


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claims," Flynn said of the $70,000. "It's a settlement of all the claims that could've been brought concerning this matter."
The Metro Gang Strike Force was a unit of officers from 13 Twin Cities police forces, sheriff's offices and other entities. It financed its activities, in part, through seizures and forfeitures of money and property.

But last year, the state's legislative auditor warned that lax oversight and overzealous enforcement had led to officers confiscating cash and property and sometimes not reporting the seizures. Some officers allegedly took seized items — ranging from electronics to big-screen TVs — for personal use.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion eventually disbanded the unit. The FBI is investigating the unit's activities, and civil lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous story conclusion said...

The state commissioned a special investigation by former federal prosecutor Andrew Luger and retired FBI agent John Patrick Egelhof. The Luger Report, as it became known, cataloged a multitude of strike force actions that were questionable and perhaps illegal.

The seizure of Rodriguez-Cardona's money was among the cases the report cited as troublesome.

Rodriguez-Cardona, who is from El Progreso, Honduras, is in the U.S. illegally. His girlfriend's car had been towed to the Minneapolis Municipal Impound Lot because of a parking violation, so on July 31, 2008, he and his girlfriend, along with three of his co-workers, went to pay the ticket and get the car.

Unbeknownst to them, strike force officers had told lot workers to alert them whenever "Mexicans" came to reclaim vehicles, the Luger Report noted.

When strike force members arrived, they searched the Rodriguez-Cardona group.

"No drugs or weapons were found, and the officers recovered no evidence of illegal activity," the Luger Report said.

But Rodriguez-Cardona, who was foreman of a construction crew, had $4,500 in cash earnings in his pocket; another man had $100.

"Strike Force officers seized these funds and, in the case of the $4,500, made a point of remarking to one another about the large amount of money in the man's possession," the report said. "Despite protests that these funds were legally the property of the men, the funds were not returned."

At the end of the incident, the gang strike force members — in violation of a Minneapolis ordinance — called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rodriguez-Cardona was taken into custody. He faces deportation.

The Luger Report found no evidence of illegal activity and said the "minimally documented" strike force records indicated only $4,014 was seized.

Fishman declined to say what Rodriguez-Cardona's current status was, except to say that he was "hopeful that he will be a beneficiary of some immigration benefit."

The settlement was fair, Fishman said.

"It was 20 times more than what he had taken from him, which reflects the value of his case for interference with his privacy, his freedom of association, the humiliation and the anguish all stemming from the event," he said.

David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legal or not, the Bill of Rights apply, the Supreme Court has ruled on this over and over.

Next, illegal immigration is not a criminal violation, its why the penalty is deportation not jail.

In this particular story, the cop didn't just violate Rights most of you didn't know illegal aliens had when in the U.S., he committed a crime which is a violation of the law he is entrusted to uphold and enforce.

Eric

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The illegal's shouldn't been here stealing jobs, or were they as "drug dealers", they had no right being in America anyway.
Now the wet-back well go back to Mexico and live like a king on that $70,000 until it runs out and he'll be back.

6:51 AM  

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