The Hennepin County Attorney will drop more than two-dozen cases against defendants and release a prisoner after finding an Eden Prairie detective lied on a search warrant.
In a press conference on Friday, the attorney's office said that Eden Prairie Police Department Det. Travis Serafin altered a search warrant during a drugs search in 2015.
Serafin had a warrant to search the home belonging to Timothy Holmes, and during that search officers found fentanyl and heroin.
But then he searched the defendant's car, finding more drugs despite not having a warrant. He created a second warrant after carrying out the search.
Hennepin County Deputy Attorney David Brown said that his actions were "baffling" because prosecutors would have had more than enough evidence from the house search alone to bring a case.
A police file has been sent to another county attorney's office to review for possible criminal charges against Serafin, who is now the subject of an internal investigation by Eden Prairie police, with Brown saying he'll likely be fired.
Hennepin County dismisses convictions
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office, meanwhile, has reviewed dozens of convictions in which Serafin was a critical and peripheral witness, and taken the following actions.
In cases where he was a critical witness.
– 5 cases have been sent to diversion, where the charges will be dismissed and the court records expunged.
– Letters have been sent to defense lawyers in 17 cases to make a motion to vacate the conviction, with the charges then dismissed and record expunged.
– Active arrest warrants for 4 suspects have been canceled and the cases dismissed.
– In 3 of the cases, the defendants are in prison. One of these men is in prison based solely on Serafin's testimony and will be released. The other is Holmes, who was also convicted of 3rd degree murder for supplying drugs in an overdose. The attorney's office has reached out to his attorney to assess what impact it will have on the plea deal he took. The third has been convicted for another crime in Dakota County, which he'll continue to serve but have the Hennepin County conviction dismissed.
In cases where he was a peripheral witness
– 3 of these cases will be dismissed.
– Letters will be sent to defense attorneys in the remaining 11 cases advising them of the misconduct so they may take the appropriate action.
An award-winning officer
Earlier this year, Det. Serafin was given the Tri-County Investigator of the Year Award by the Tri-County Law Enforcement Association alongside another detective.
The award was given for "their work in establishing a precedent for investigating heroin overdose deaths," according to Eden Prairie News.
He was also named Eden Prairie PD's Officer of the Year in 2011.
In a statement on Friday, Eden Prairie PD said it "holds officers to extremely high ethical standards," but also said it affords officers time for "due process" if their actions are called into question.