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By David Hanners [email protected]t. Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota)

Federal agents probing alleged corruption in the Minneapolis Police Department targeted five officers who had filed a civil rights suit against the city last year, a lawyer claims in a motion filed in federal court.
F. Clayton Tyler, the attorney representing a different cop accused in a federal corruption case, has asked a court to delay his client's upcoming trial, saying he needs more time to review evidence uncovered in the five officers' civil suit against the city.
In the motion, Tyler claims the police informant that agents used in their case against officer Michael David Roberts also was used in an investigation targeting the five officers, who have claimed they were discriminated against in the department because they are minorities.
Tyler sought to put off the Nov. 3 trial of Roberts, a 28-year veteran of the department.
Roberts, 58, a patrolman, was indicted by a federal grand jury in July on two counts of "deprivation of honest services wire fraud" and a single count of unauthorized access to a protected computer. He allegedly provided confidential police computer data to an informant posing as a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang.
In reality, the informant was a drug-trafficking, mortgage-scamming would-be Internet entrepreneur with the made-up name of Taylor Winthorpe Trump. He was hoping to whittle some prison time off the 20-year sentence he'd gotten for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and a subsequent conviction for wire fraud and money laundering.
Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan suspended Roberts and another officer, Lt. Lee Edwards, in April and cited a pending federal investigation. Roberts eventually was indicted and is on paid leave while his case is pending.
Edwards has not been charged. He was reinstated to duty two days after Roberts was indicted.
Dolan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia III said, "There is an open investigation with Lt. Edwards and that's all we can say."
Edwards, a storied detective who once headed the department's homicide unit, is one of five minority officers who sued Dolan, the department and the city in December. Edwards and Lts. Medaria Arradondo and Donald Harris and Sgts. Charles Adams and Dennis Hamilton claim they were victims of a department whose leadership discriminated against black officers.
Their case is set to go to trial in October 2009.
Tyler did not return a call for comment. John Klassen, a lawyer representing Edwards and the others, was out of the office; the other lawyer representing the men, Andrew Muller, said he couldn't discuss the case.
Christian S. Wilton, an assistant U.S. attorney involved in the Trump and Roberts cases, also did not return a call for comment.
Like the plaintiffs in the civil suit, Roberts is black.
When FBI agents interviewed Roberts in April, they questioned him about cooperating in a corruption investigation into other officers in the police department, according to an FBI document filed as an exhibit in his case.
"Do you guys honestly believe that I would ever give you that type of information?" the FBI agents quote Roberts as saying. They wrote that Roberts claimed he was unaware of any wrongdoing in the department.
"Roberts stated that he would not cooperate with the FBI in wiring up against any other police officers that the FBI believes may be involved in misconduct," the agents wrote. "Wiring up" is law enforcement slang for having an informant secretly record conversations.
In a signed statement he gave to the agents, Roberts admitted that he twice provided confidential information to Trump and accepted the unsolicited $200 that Trump handed him.
"I knew it was stupid, unethical, and illegal to take the money," Roberts said in the statement.
Trump, 47, posing as a member of the Gangster Disciples, called Roberts and set up two meetings in August 2007. Roberts said in his statement to the FBI that a man he knew as Valache (Taylor Valachi is an alias Trump has used) had claimed that someone was trying to kill him and that he knew the person's license plate number.
Roberts said Trump asked him to use a police computer to find the person's name, and he did. After doing so, Trump handed him $100. Roberts didn't report the encounter or the money.
Roberts said a similar incident occurred a few days later, and he let Trump view the nonpublic portion of a police report. Again, Trump handed him $100. After the second incident, Roberts wrote a police report about the encounter and said he had turned in the money to the police property room, but federal investigators said it never turned up.
In his statement to the FBI, Roberts said he either spent the money or stuck it in his bank account.
At the time of the incidents, Trump was under federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The details of the plea bargain remain under seal in U.S. District Court.
Federal prosecutors also charged him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. The government alleges he was the mastermind of a mortgage fraud scheme that may have defrauded people out of as much as $2.5 million.
A week after he was charged in the fraud case, Trump signed a plea deal with prosecutors agreeing to "cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the prosecution of and in the investigation of other suspects." If prosecutors determine Trump has provided substantial assistance, the government will seek a reduced sentence for him.

Story From: Pioneer Press
 
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