By Lynda Jensen
Possible charges that were investigated by the FBI against Meeker County Sheriff Mike Hirman will not be pursued, according to Anoka County Attorney Bob Johnson, who was appointed to pursue the matter independently to avoid a conflict of interest in Meeker.
Johnson indicated in a statement, when asked for public information by the Enterprise Dispatch, that a number of different offenses against Hirman were examined by the FBI. For a copy of Johnson's findings, click here.
Most offenses were reported by a former Meeker County investigator who worked at the sheriff’s office and was terminated.
None of the charges will go forward due to a lack of hard evidence in the case.
The areas that were investigated included the following:
• Obstruction of the legal process was investigated by the FBI, specifically pertaining to a 911 call made by Hirman’s son in 2006 that was allegedly erased, which was associated with a vehicle stopped by Meeker Co. Deputy Sandstrom that contained several intoxicated minors.
Sandstrom admitted that he changed his report on his own initiative, without Hirman’s order to do so. “There is no evidence in this case that Sheriff Hirman acted to intentionally obstruct, hinder or prevent any legal process,” according to Johnson.
Allegations also were made that Hirman acted to obstruct or prevent ongoing narcotics investigations, as well as other investigations involving Chief Deputy Jeff Norlin’s sons.
“There is no evidence to support either of these claims, beyond the allegations themselves,” Johnson wrote in his statement. Both Norlin and Hirman denied the accusations.
• An allegation was made that Hirman impeded an investigation that involved a friend who was the defendant in a domestic dispute.
Evidence was lost in the dispute, and the case was dropped by the county attorney, Johnson noted in his report.
Due to the lack of eyewitnesses and videotape of the area the evidence was taken from, this charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Johnson stated.
• Misconduct of a public officer was also examined; that the sheriff’s department would refuse to fully investigate complaints made by political opponents of the sheriff or complaints made against friends of the sheriff or Norlin.
However, Johnson noted a lack of evidence to show that Hirman actually intended this to happen, and attributed this to accidental omissions and oversights. It was noted that a large file of cases that were not pursued was kept by the county investigator who was terminated, and that this could have been misconduct on his part.
• Improper use/acquisition of a company-owned vehicle was also investigated, regarding a 1997 Ford Explorer that was previously owned by the sheriff’s office.
Hirman was able to present receipts and documents that showed the county paid for work to the upper control arm and front shocks for $357; not major transmission work as suggested. In fact, Hirman later sold the vehicle due to a bad transmission, he told investigators.
A claim was also made that Hirman used a county-owned vehicle to haul a recreational trailer, but Hirman said it was a FEMA trailer.
• Several individuals in the sheriff’s department reported to an FBI special agent that they felt Hirman tapped their office phone lines. Hirman acknowledged that the sheriff’s office obtained the ability to intercept calls in 2003, but that a memo was sent out to this effect.
Johnson noted that there was no evidence that Hirman actually did this, even though he could have.
When contacted, Hirman said he would not offer additional comments, other than what was supplied by the county attorney.