Complaint Review: Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ben Smith pays $750,000 to settle Ripoff Report 1983 civil rights lawsuit. - Sac City Iowa
Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ben Smith pays $750,000 to settle Ripoff Report 1983 civil rights lawsuit.. Federal Judge stops prosecutors abuse of power against ED Magedson Founder of Ripoff Report.
*Consumer Comment: When prosecutors receive insufficient penalty for (and, as in Ben Smith's case, even get rewarded for) retaliating against those who publish evidence, a chilling effect takes among those with evidence
*General Comment: When powerful prosecutors like Ben Smith are rewarded for retaliating against those who provide exculpatory evidence the result is a chilling effect among those the public with evidence to share.
*Consumer Comment: So happy For Ed Magedson & Ripoff Report!
*Consumer Comment: Ed Thanks for standing up for the little people
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December 18, 2017 Sac County Iowa — Prosecutor of Iowa’s Sac County Ben Smith has agreed to pay Ed Magedson Founder of the consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report $750,000 to settle a 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuit accusing Smith of abusing his office and breaching civil rights protected under the First Amendment.
Xcentric’s Complaint Against Smith A federal judge in 2015 ordered Smith to stop investigating Magedson and issued a preliminary injunction in a rare ruling against a criminal investigation.
Preliminary Injunction Ruling A federal judge in Iowa found Magedson’s case against Smith likely to prevail in a trial. Smith admits to no wrongdoing or liability, but the Sac County’s risk pool paid the settlement fee to avoid trial.
The years-long lawsuit, Xcentric Ventures LLC and Ed Magedson v. Ben Smith in individual capacity as Sac County Attorney, was filed in relation to the Tracy Richter murder trial, a case that got national and international media coverage due to its sensational nature. In 2001, Richter, a mother of three, shot Dustin Wehde in her home. Richter told police that two men had entered her home and tried to assault her, and that she had shot at them in self-defense. The man that was shot, Wehde, has been a neighbor and a family acquaintance known to Richter’s then-husband.
The Sac Country prosecutor at the time decided not to charge Richter for homicide. Richter was later hailed by the media as a courageous mother who defended herself and her children against a violent home invasion. She appeared on several prominent news shows and raised funds for her legal defense after Wehde’s family filed a civil liability case that was later dropped. When Smith became the prosecutor of the county nearly 10 years later, he decided to bring formal murder charges against Richter.
Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ben Smith
Smith’s decision was not without controversy. As the murder trial was ongoing, a man named Darren Meade came forward claiming to have evidence proving Richter’s innocence. Smith dismissed Meade’s claims and secured a conviction against Richter. Meade published his claims on RipoffReport.com. The website, founded by Magedson, publishes complaints against rip-off services, brands, products, and public officials with the intention of promoting consumer rights and wrong doings to consumers.
Meade’s claims published on Ripoff Report were remarkable. (some of Darren Meade’s writings can be found here). In his writings, Meade pointed out that Smith has married the daughter of a key witness against Richter, raising the issue of an untrue testimony. Meade also pointed out that notes in Wehde’s handwriting claimed that Richter’s first ex-husband had hired Wehde to kill Richter. This ex-husband had been a witness for the prosecution against Richter instead of a suspect. Meade made multiple such claims that shed doubt on the integrity of Smith’s prosecution of Richter.
Magedson maintains that Smith was “irritated” by the claims published on the website and began a “civil rights abuses campaign” against him and Meade. Smith brought criminal charges against Meade. Magedson claims in legal filings that Smith told Meade to testify against him and the website in return for immunity against the charges. The case against Meade was later dropped.
Magedson, and the company that formally owns Ripoff Report, Xcentric Ventures LLC, sued Smith for violating the site’s first amendment rights. The case was heard in a federal court, the traditional forum for protecting constitutional rights against abuse of government power. The federal court in Iowa issued a preliminary injunction against Smith, noting “the plaintiffs have shown that such conduct of defendant Ben Smith is causing the plaintiffs irreparable harm.” Following the injunction, the lawsuit proceeded to a discovery phase, where Smith was required to provide a deposition testimony regarding his actions.
The lawsuit details the extent to which Smith used his authority as prosecutor to go after Ripoff Report.
Smith obtained private communications from Xcentric, including financial records and communication protected by attorney-client privilege. The memorandum of the injunction notes that Smith “ultimately issued over 100 county attorney investigatory subpoenas to obtain records and documents concerning the possible connection between Meade, Magedson and the Richter family.”
Sac County Iowa assistant DA Ben Smith offices
Magedson says Smith caused his person and his website serious damage when Smith decided to file a search warrant application publicly, rather than as a sealed filing, which made his false accusations against ED Magedson and the website public. The application was shown to the company’s avowed enemies, according to the lawsuit. As a result, the website suffered reputational damage and rumors started to circulate that Magedson was going to be arrested and facing up to 25 years in prison.
“This evidence confirmed the amount of public resources Smith devoted to his pursuit of Ripoff Report, the extent he violated the privacy of other people in an attempt to persecute and smear Smith’s own critics, and his utter disregard for professional law enforcement standards and the Constitution of the United States,” Magedson explains.
“Essentially, Smith assembled a lynch mob,” he adds. “He used his prosecutor power to get warrants and issue subpoenas, and he turned them over to his lynch mob so that they could be used to frame or disgrace Smith’s critics.”
Ripoff Report is committed to cooperating with law enforcement investigations, Magedson said. For example, the website since its inception has successfully cooperated with hundreds of local and Federal law enforcement agencies to redact certain types of sensitive information. If something was false, Sac County Prosecutor Smith could have made contact with Ripoff Report.
The website and Magedson initially offered to take down any false statements included in Meade’s claims, which Smith ignored. Smith’s public search warrant is over 100 pages long, but does not specify any false statements published in Ripoff Report. When Smith gave deposition testimony, he still did not provide examples or evidence of false statements published on the website regarding the Richter murder trial. (Some of Mead’s claims can be found here)
Ripoff Report offered to settle all claims, including civil and criminal claims, if Smith identified and proved false statements on the website that could be removed. Smith rejected the offer and, in return for not admitting fault on his part, settled the case by paying $750,000.
For 20 years Ripoff Report has assisted every branch of law-enforcement assisting with prosecutions and shutdowns of thousands of businesses ripping off millions of consumers.
RELATED ARTICLES written by ED Magedson, Founder Ripoff Report
ED Magedson Victimized by Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Prosecutorial Misconduct, used and abused prosecutor subpoena power. There is no criminal case against ED Magedson, no indictment against ED Magedson, no substance to propaganda stated by Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith a disgraceful publicity stunt by Sac County Iowa. The Truth about ED Magedson - what’s really going on in Sac County Iowa? You have heard the hype and read the spin, now here is the truth.
Adam S. Kunz – In-house Counsel, Ripoff Report
ED Magedson – Founder, Ripoff Report
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/17/2017 11:56 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/sac-county-iowa-prosecutor-ben-smith-pays-750000-to-settle-ripoff-report-1983-civil-rights-lawsuit/sac-city-iowa-50583/sac-county-iowa-prosecutor-ben-smith-pays-750000-to-settle-ripoff-report-1983-civil-righ-1417505. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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