Second CPD cop's court testimony called into question
The Carlton County Attorney's Office has identified a second Cloquet Police Department officer whose court testimony may not be reliable.
In a March 11 message to Daniel Lew, chief public defender for the Sixth Judicial District, Assistant Carlton County Attorney Jeffrey Boucher provided a Brady disclosure regarding CPD Detective Scott Holman.
Brady v. Maryland is a 1963 Supreme Court case requiring disclosure of possible material favorable to defendants in criminal prosecutions, including misconduct findings involving law enforcement officers. The disclosure relates to Holman's conduct on social media in July 2017 and an incident in 2004.
Holman received an oral reprimand from CPD Chief Jeff Palmer on March 29, 2018, as a result of comments Holman made on Facebook in July 2017. Holman made comments critical of former Chief Steve Stracek and media coverage surrounding his suspension and the ensuing investigation.
Holman declined the Pine Journal's request for comment. His attorney, Mike Padden of Lake Elmo, Minn., said Holman was simply trying to defend the CPD from what he believed to be unfair media coverage.
"What Scott did was he felt that previously, his agency was being trashed by people unfairly," Padden said. "So what he did was he used a pseudonym to make posts on Facebook trying to defend his agency and defend the situation. As part of that, there were comments that could perhaps could be viewed as negative about Stracek and (County Attorney Lauri) Ketola. Although they were true — he absolutely contends that what he said was true.
"Because of that, he received an oral reprimand, which is like a hand-slap, but as a citizen, he has a right to exercise his First Amendment rights, just like anybody else," Padden said.
Stracek replaced Wade Lamirande as CPD chief in 2014. In a special meeting called by then-Mayor Dave Hallback on March 16, 2017, councilors voted to place Stracek on administrative leave while they conducted an investigation into a "vote of no confidence" filed by the Teamsters Local 346, which represents CPD officers and sergeants. After a lengthy investigation, Stracek was exonerated of allegations contained in the letter, but also retired as chief.
In February 2005, Holman was disciplined for missing mandatory firearms training on Dec. 22, 2004. Holman told Lamirande that he was too sick to attend, but was seen later that night out consuming alcoholic beverages. Lamirande suspended Holman for one day, with pay, and required him to write a formal letter of apology to the force.
Padden described Ketola as a "close friend" of Stracek and said Ketola was angry with what she believed was a lenient punishment Holman received for his Facebook conduct. Padden said Ketola advocated for a more significant punishment in an appeal to the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB), of which she was a member at the time.
The CAB recommended a more severe punishment to the City Council, but the council rejected it.
"What we are claiming is that she had a conflict of interest at that time," Padden said. "After she became county attorney, because of her prior history with Holman — that if she were going to make a Brady assessment, our position was that it should have been sent to an outside agency because she had a blatant conflict of interest."
In an email to the Pine Journal, Ketola said she couldn't comment on why she made the Brady decision regarding Holman, but she noted there are "different classifications for Brady, varying in seriousness." Ketola didn't respond to follow-up questions regarding the Brady classification for Holman.
In December 2018, the Carlton County Attorney's Office issued a Brady disclosure for former CPD Officer Scott Beckman, who was found guilty of lying to a superior officer and falsifying a search warrant in 2016. At about the same time, Beckman left the CPD under a separation agreement in which he will continue to be paid through September.
Beckman's departure from the CPD prompted a press release from the County Attorney's Office saying 18 cases involving Beckman were dismissed and another four submitted for review weren't charged. Another 25 cases were reviewed by an outside expert and at least one person, Clarence Lozoya Jr., was released from prison because of Beckman's involvement in the case.