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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cops Guilty of Stealing Government Money

Ramsey Co. employees convicted in fraud case

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two members of the special investigations unit of the Ramsey County sheriff's office have been convicted of stealing government money and conspiracy. The convictions of Timothy Rehak and Mark Naylon came Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Minneapolis. The jury got the case Wednesday morning. The men, both 48, were acquitted of four wire fraud charges. The men faced the charges for a November 2004 incident in which they searched a motel room in which the FBI had planted $13,500 in supposed drug money. They admitted taking some of the money during the search, but said they were playing a joke on a third officer. Rehak is a former St. Paul police officer and experienced street officer who now works for the Sheriff's Department. Naylon is a Sheriff's Department employee, but is not a peace officer. They are both close friends of Sheriff Bob Fletcher, and Naylon was the best man at Fletcher's second wedding.

Naylon was hired as the sheriff's public information officer to deal with the media, and spent time in the sheriff's Special Investigations Unit, participating in arrests, searches, seizures and other police work. Rehak testified that it was generally known that Naylon's involvement in cases should not be mentioned in the police reports. Naylon and Rehak were subjects of FBI "integrity tests" in 2003 and 2004, in which the FBI planted supposed drug money to see what the men would do with it. Both tests were filmed and showed to a jury last week. U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz dismissed two counts stemming from the second test, but kept the charges related to the first test, which took place at the Best Western Kelly Inn in St. Paul. Prosecutors say a convicted meth dealer working with the FBI called Rehak and told him a fictitious drug dealer named "Vinnie" had left drugs and money at a hotel room, but had been arrested in Wisconsin and wanted someone to get his stuff. Rehak and Naylon went to the hotel with their supervisor, Sgt. Rolland Martinez, who had a search warrant. The three found a bag of money and some drug residue and dumped it on one of the beds. In the video, while Martinez is in the bathroom, Naylon can be seen pointing at the money. Rehak gives a roll of bills, containing $6,000, to Naylon, who puts it in his jacket pocket.

The FBI had placed $13,500 in the bag. But Martinez, who was not a target of the integrity test, counted only $7,500 and wrote that amount on the search warrant receipt. Rehak and Naylon say Naylon took the money to play a practical joke on Martinez, with Naylon planning to hide the roll of bills and force Martinez to return to the room later to retrieve it. Rehak testified in court that when Naylon couldn't find a place to hide the money, he took it with him. Martinez testified that the pair told him later that they'd found $6,000 in a mattress or a box spring. So the three went back to the hotel room. Rehak changed the copy of the search warrant receipt which said $7,500 by writing a "1" in front of the "7" and changing the "7" to a "3." The sloppy receipt -- still signed only by Martinez -- now read that $13,500 had been recovered. Government testimony has indicted the men violated a number of St. Paul police department and Ramsey County Sheriff's Department policies. Rehak maintains his police report was accurate -- minus details about the practical joke. He says there was no intent to keep the money. Rehak and Naylon no longer work for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. They turned in their resignations Wednesday.

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