The Polk County Underground Railroad
by Timothy Charles Holmseth
If you stand in just the right spot on the Riverwalk in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, you will be treated to a most splendid view of the Kennedy Bridge where it gracefully straddles the mighty Red River.
There’s something triumphant in the sight that cannot be put to words – God’s glorious like that.
I remember the day cars were parked down along the side of the river, while others rolled ominously along – something there was amiss. A boat was slowly moving around the waters below the large structure – the men were pushing large sticks into the water – people looked at each other but did not need to speak
Indeed, perception is reality.
Many a true love has sat on a bench beside shining waters and dreamed pretty dreams as it slowly rippled past. But time respects no person, and soon enough, we all must face what lies just beneath the surface.
In many regards, any beautiful illusions I had in life were shattered in 2009, when I faced those proverbial dead eyes rolling in the deep, reminding me of what lies beneath.
Well – I answered my telephone one day, and was inadvertently brought into a federal kidnapping case through journalistic interviews I ended up doing with people involved in the disappearance of a little girl from Florida named HaLeigh Cummings.
This was really bad stuff.
I was interviewed by the Minneapolis FBI in 2010 and provided them with the recorded interviews they wanted of the suspects. I later wrote a book that told the world the truth – and, brought hells burning rain onto me.
My eyes had been opened and I saw many things.
And now I’m going to tell you about the Polk County Underground Railroad.
If you stand in just right spot on Demers Avenue in East Grand Forks and look up, you’ll see where it begins.
To help get you oriented, I will direct your imagination and attention to the aisles of Sam’s Club where two men – a lawyer and his client – are walking along slowly – chatting.
‘Oh, you don’t have anything to worry about,’ the lawyer says, slowly pushing a grocery cart.
Michael LaCoursiere was the court appointed lawyer assigned to me by the State Public Defender Office in the 9th Minnesota District – he would be representing me in a jury trial that was coming up, and we were spending some together to tie up any loose ends.
Paraphrasing pre-trial conversations I had with LaCoursiere is not difficult. Our conversations and trial preparation were relatively infrequent, short in duration, and rather boring.
Attorney LaCoursiere assured me the State had a gaping hole in their case and the strategy to win was for us to – well – show up. ‘As soon as the Prosecution rests, I will stand up and ask for a Judgment of Acquittal,’ he told me.
We didn’t even need to put on a defense.
The State’s case was a sick joke and should have never been brought against a journalist and author for a myriad of reasons that will remain for another time. At any rate, LaCoursiere simply smiled and said “Galstad knows his case has problems.”
He was referring to East Grand Forks City Attorney Ronald Galstad.
I knew Attorney LaCoursiere was correct in his legal assessment of the matter, because I had sat down with a lawyer from Roseau regarding a separate matter involving my work as an investigative author. When I explained the facts of the criminal case, he told me what was going to happen in the trial, and he mimicked everything LaCoursiere told me.
My jury trial was scheduled for October 29, 2012 at the Polk County Justice Center in Crookston, Minnesota.
The day had come – it had been almost a year since I had been charged, and I never worried once – my lawyer laughed at the State’s so-called case.
And now… well…
Now – I am going to show you how the dangerous and depraved minds that run the Polk County Underground Railroad, operate.
Most everyone, at some time or another, has known someone that told a story about somebody they knew that was ‘framed’ by police – ‘set-up’ if you will – commonly described as being ‘railroaded’.
The facts that surround the proverbial ‘railroad’ are elusive, and as the old saying goes, ‘everyone in jail is innocent – just ask them’.
Indeed – in most instances the self-proclaimed victim is just an irresponsible adult king-baby that is not willing to accept responsibility for his own behavior.
But ladies and gentleman – ‘railroading’ is real – and I know because law enforcement and select public officials in Polk County, Minnesota tried to do it to me.
Now – it will be refreshing to the reader that I say they ‘attempted’ – because I caught them, folks! I caught them, and now I’m going to show you how they do it.
I am going to tell you who they are, where they work, and show you exactly how they do it.
Before I begin with elaborate details, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag.
The State Prosecutor and the Public Defender are in cahoots with each other.
That’s the secret behind the parlor trick – and that’s what they are doing folks – parlor tricks. They always get away with it because they are slick as magicians when they pull this crap.
It may appear on the surface the Prosecutor and Public Defender are adversaries, and in most situations they likely are, but in a corrupt situation, the railroad is accomplished through collusion between the Prosecutor and Public Defender.
I have already given you a little background on what Attorney LaCoursiere had to say to me about the State’s case, so you have a baseline.
On October 29, 2012 Michael LaCousiere walked into a conference room at the Polk County Justice Center where I sat waiting – my seventeen year-old daughter was with me – I was ready for my trial.
He sat down and sighed.
“I can make this all go away” he said.
What? I thought.
I was confused.
Make what go away?
I had no idea what he was talking about. He was uncharacteristically wide-eyed and shaking his head. He looked like somebody just shot his dog.
“They want you put in prison,” he said.
Now – folks – I am a 45 year-old father with no record and was charged with a freakin’ Misdemeanor okay? – this wasn’t the O.J. or George Zimmerman Trial – I just crinkled my forehead.
LaCoursiere continued with urgent talk about a plot against me and cynical discussions about prison. In sales and marketing terms, the proverbial ‘pain and discomfort’ had been introduced – and then came the proverbial ‘solution’ to all my problems.
‘They’re willing to go with an Alford plea,’ he said, suggesting I take an offer that is the equivalent of a ‘no-contest’ plea. I shrugged it off – I hadn’t just fallen off the turnip cart and we had talked about trial for a whole year – I was ready to roll.
LaCoursiere proceeded to tell me and my seventeen year-old daughter about a far-reaching plot to shut me up. Even people from out of state were involved.
“Nobody will listen to you if you’re in prison,” he said, referring to the HaLeigh Cummings matter.
He then asked my daughter what grade she was in. She replied she was a senior in high school at East Grand Forks High. “Oh, do you know Rachael Galstad,” he asked.
What and the hell?
I am going to trial in 15 minutes, on what is no less than the extension of an interstate fraud being perpetuated against me, at the hands of a corrupt police department, and my Public Defender is asking my daughter if she knows the Prosecutor’s daughter?
Absorb that, folks.
He proceeded to tell me that he and Ronald Galstad shared great college memories, and he smiled huge as he told us how he remembered when Rachael Galstad was “born”.
Okay – this is getting freaky weird.
I became very uneasy, because LaCoursiere already knew I had reported Attorney Ronald Galstad, Detective Chris Olson, and Lt. Rod Hajicek to the FBI for crap I knew they were doing.
He was sending me a message, folks.
They needed a conviction on me so I could be discredited, and thus, no longer pose a threat to them.
But, nonetheless, I had already been threatened with death and great bodily harm for refusing to shut up about what I knew regarding the missing child; I wasn’t impressed with the prison threat-talk and shrugged it off.
I asked LaCoursiere if any key witness showed up and he wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I expressed I was ready to follow the plan we had for a year.
LaCoursiere became more and more animated, and his tone became more cynical and desperate. He seemed to have a personal interst in me agreeing to an Alford plea.
I stayed to the plan.
He then told me “Galstad” would probably call Polk County Deputy Jesse Haugen to lie on the witness stand.
“I thought it was Chris Olson who lies on the stand,” I said.
I was referring to a pre-trial conference we’d had where he had told me he hoped they didn’t have Detective Chris Olson, EGF PD, appear in uniform to lie. He talked about Olson lying as if it was common.
Indeed – Detective Chris Olson is bad news – the evidence I have is for another time.
Looking back later – I was able to see the seeds were actually being planted during conversations long before October 29th. Or should we say – the tracks to the Polk County Railroad were being put down.
‘Maybe both of them will testify,’ LaCoursiere said.
Of course – LaCoursiere should have been reporting this information to Honorable Tamara Yon who was the presiding judge. But he didn’t do that – he passed the threats along to me and told me to rely upon them.
I was then reminded by LaCoursiere I am a single-father, my kids needed me, and I would be no good to anybody in St. Cloud State Prison.
Remember – I am charged with a Misdemeanor and LaCoursiere is talking about me growing old in state prison. “They’re going to get better and better at this,” he said, again warning me that factions had aligned against me.
I was out of time.
I agreed to the Alford plea.
But the plan he warned me about was in full effect, folks – and he was part of it.
When we went into the courtroom, I agreed to the no-contest plea.
And then, Ronald Galstad did something, that at the time, I thought was rather odd.
He asked the Judge if Michael LaCoursiere could be kept on as my appointed lawyer until after the Compliance Review hearing that was scheduled for December 12, 2012.
LaCoursiere just sat quiet looking down (perhaps he was lost in his warm memories of Rachael Galstad being born).
I would later learn from LaCoursiere’s supervisor, Attorney Kip Fontaine that LaCoursiere’s representation of me actually ended that day, per policy.
He wasn’t supposed to be my lawyer anymore. If events transpired that required I have a lawyer, the application process would start over.
Galstad wanted LaCoursiere to be my attorney, and I will show you why.
On December 10, 2012 Lt. Rod Hajicek, EGFPD, hand-delivered to LaCoursire, a Motion quietly drafted by Galstad, requesting the Court adjudicate me guilty.
LaCoursiere did not call, email, text, or send a smoke signal to me about the Motion. Galstad had not provided any Discovery to demonstrate what I had done to be in non-compliance, nor did LaCoursiere demand any.
My own lawyer kept me in the dark – he was my Judas.
But, I found out about what they were going to do to me, because on December 11, 2012 I received a copy of the Motion in the mail from the Polk County Court Administrator.
I contacted LaCoursiere by email that night, before the tentative frame-up, and handed him his ass. He didn’t dare carry though with his role in the plan, because if he didn’t do his job, I was going to stand up and hand Judge Yon the email I sent him.
LaCoursiere asked for a continuance and Ronald Galstad threw a temper tantrum right there in the courtroom. He yelled and banged his hand on the table, insisting on an impromptu Evidentiary Hearing, but the Judge told him no, it would continued, and didn’t even give him a Puffs, milk, or animal crackers.
Now watch this real, real close.
Two days later my telephone rang. It was LaCoursiere and he wanted to discuss my case. We chatted a bit on the phone, and then he suddenly and abruptly terminated the call, saying he had another call coming in – he hung up.
We’ll get back to that in a minute.
Approximately 45 seconds after Lacoursiere dropped the call, my door was being pounded on and a voice was yelling “POLICE!” – “WARRANT!”.
Four EGF PD officers in bullet proof vests ran over the top of me, one of them pushing a piece of paper into my chest yelling “WARRANT! WARRANT! WARRANT! ” like I was hard of hearing.
One officer tried to gain entry to the bathroom where my minor daughter was undressed. He told her she was lucky she was a minor or he would have kicked the door in.
They had come with a Search Warrant to seize my computer, hard drive, cell phone, work product, mail, etc.
Of course – it was just harassment and intimidation. I did not have anything illegal on my hard drive. The City did not request the Search Warrant until after I caught them trying to run their railroad.
They had seized a ‘bargaining chip’ they would later use to coerce me into withdrawing a Complaint I had filed to the Minnesota Bar Association.
On April 26, 2013, per an agreement that had been brokered by a second public defender, Bruce Ringstrom Sr., my property was returned.
The hard drive was ruined.
Now, let’s return to LaCoursiere’s telephone call to me that he made just before the police demanded entry to my home-office.
Guess what – the EGF police officers were standing outside my door listening to me talk to my attorney – Detective Chris Olson was running the show.
Why is that significant?
I’ll tell you.
In the formal police report filed by Detective Aeisso Schrage, which I had to fight to finally obtain, because Chief Michael Hedlund told me I was under investigation, there is a very interesting entry. Schrage quotes me talking about the pending criminal case with my attorney – attempting to use my own words to incriminate me.
Now – obviously – my attorney-client privilege rights were butchered and died an unnatural death right there on the spot.
So – is there any way this can get worse?
Yes – Schrage used quotations marks and all-caps to emphasize what he claimed I was saying on the telephone about my case, so it could be used against me in a court of law.
But guess what?
I recorded the whole telephone call with LaCoursiere, and nowhere during the entire duration of the call do I ever say the words the officer quoted me as saying.
On July 9, 2013 Honorable Tamara Yon, at my request, forwarded my Affidavit to the state investigator at the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.
May God bless her.
May God bless all the missing children HaLeigh Cummings represents.
And may God watch over the citizens of Polk County, Minnesota with these goblins lurking around.
What else can an old Irish guy say, but perhaps quote my love from another life, Dolores Keane.
“…hard times, hard times, come again no more – many days you have lingered around my cabin door, hard times, come again no more…”
– Dolores Keane / Hard Times Come Again No More