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Report: #1417505

Complaint Review: Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ben Smith pays $750,000 to settle Ripoff Report 1983 civil rights lawsuit. - Sac City Iowa

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  • Reported By: ED Magedson - Founder, Ripoff Report — Tempe Arizona United States
  • Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ben Smith pays $750,000 to settle Ripoff Report 1983 civil rights lawsuit. 100 N W State St # 9 Sac City, Iowa United States

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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.


Darren Meade

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. 

What is a 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuit?    

RELATED ARTICLES written by ED Magedson, Founder Ripoff Report

Ripoff Report files Motion to Disqualify Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith for Conflict of Interest because he seeks removal of criticism about his performance as a public official.

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.

https://www.prnewschannel.com/2015/09/30/federal-judge-orders-sac-county-iowa-prosecutor-ben-smith-to-stop-investigating-prosecuting-ed-magedson-and-consumer-website-ripoffreport-com/ 

CONTACT INFO:

Adam S. Kunz – In-house Counsel, Ripoff Report

480-340-6487
___________________________
ED Magedson – Founder, Ripoff Report

602-518-4357

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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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
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Hello, my name is Darren M. Meade and my work some of which was published on Ripoff Report Has Been Mischaracterized and Attempts to Set a Narrative that my Work was about Attacking Witnesses and not Predominantly about Criticizing Sac County Attorney Ben Smith and his Action Related to the Richter Trial.

SCA Ben Smith has used his prosecutorial powers maliciously and with gross impropriety to retaliate against, stifle and punish myself, Ed Magedson and others for my criticism of Smith’s conduct, under the pretext of investigating and prosecuting “witness tampering.” Now, when confronted about what he did, he tries to put me on the defensive and create a narrative which redirects focus away from himself.

No law enforcement officials should be allowed to get away with the kinds of things he has done. No one should have to go through what I have had to go through nor have to sustain the permanent, horrific damage I have had to sustain for criticizing a prosecutor, reporting on and trying to bring to law enforcement’s attention important facts related to a crime.

When powerful prosecutors receive an insufficient penalty for (and, as in Smith’s case, even get rewarded for) retaliating against those who present exculpatory evidence or criticize prosecutorial decisions, then the result is wrongful convictions and a chilling effect among those in the public with relevant evidence to share.

SCA Ben Smith and his team has been working very hard to portray me as a crazy guy paid to attack former witnesses in the Tracey Richter trial. The narrative that they’ve spent tremendous effort and resources crafting has me baselessly attacking witnesses with name-calling and coming up with random, unfounded accusations of: “child molestation,” “terrorism,” and “pipe bombs.

But Smith’s characterization of me is false; what I actually did was publish over 50 articles, videos, and comments with the broader theme of criticizing Sac County Attorney Ben Smith’s prosecutorial ethics and decisions in the Tracey Richter case. In order to craft their narrative and misrepresent me, Smith’s attorneys have latched onto a single paragraph in one of those 50 articles, where I quoted verbatim the allegations from the lawsuit (Case No. 8:06-cv-00363-EAK-TGW Gregory Perry vs. MILE2 MKI INC., A DOMESTIC CORPORATION; ET AL, MICHAEL ROBERTS an INDIVIDUAL) where named state witness Michael Roberts [Roberts' did not testify at the Richter trial] is being sued Please read the paragraph from the article of mine that they are using to mischaracterize me. In order to clearly identify the verbatim allegations from the aforementioned lawsuit I cited, I’ve bolded and underlined them. Here’s the paragraph:

Michael Roberts is in hot water again, Sources report Roberts cyber-terrorism didn’t end with him hiding behind a keyboard, but may now have taken a new, more serious turn. A source has confirmed that Roberts’ was sued for distributing materials containing depictions of child molestation, child torture, and exact recipes for the manufacture of liquid explosives and pipe bombs.’”

Again, these underlined bolded words were not my words. The words were directly quoted from this lawsuit. Yet SCA Smith’s team, in order to maintain their false narrative and misportrayal of me, must continue to falsely attribute those words to me. Following the direct quote in my article was an embedded hyperlink which allowed the reader to view the whole lawsuit: “See Lawsuit Here.”

Ben Smith is the elected Sac County Attorney and, as such, is a public official. Smith has been publicly criticized for the way he prosecuted Tracey Richter for murder in 2011, more than 10 years after she shot a home intruder. The case was controversial and newsworthy and received local, national, and international media coverage. Much of the criticism of Smith and his handling of Richter’s case was reported by me and posted on my the websites CyberbountyHuntersBlog, Kairos-Meade, Google-Cide, and Internet sharing websites worldwide, including the Ripoff Report.

Sac County Attorney made a stunning admission in his legal filing on October 1, 2014: “The specific allegations Darren Meade made against Michael Roberts in his communications to SCA Smith … would undermine the/a jury’s decision to convict Tracey Richter for murder.” Just 30 days earlier, on September 2, the Sac County Attorney had filed his now-discredited criminal charges against me to justify securing subpoenas and warrants to spy on me and identify my sources in my articles alleging Smith committed prosecutorial misconduct in the now infamous Tracey Richter trial.

SCA Smith further attested in his October 1, 2014 legal filing that my articles and video style expose' on the murder of Dustin Wehde and presented in such a way as to unambiguously assert Tracey Richter was innocent of the crime for which she was found guilty by a jury had been viewed, “1 billion times on the Internet.” 4-months earlier Smith directed his agent, Michael Roberts for a synopsis of what I posted online in reference to Smith’s prosecution of Tracey Richter, Roberts replied :

Darren Meade has produced, edited and published numerous videos, which are presented as documentary-style exposes on the murder of Dustin Wehde, but presented in such a way as to unambiguously assert that TRACEY RICHTER is innocent of the crime for which she was found guilty by jury, and that State’s witness Michael Roberts is, in fact, a murderer, or a conspirator for the murder. DARREN MEADE also implicates SCA Smith be alleging that he and Michael Roberts have been good friends since SCA Smith was in university and that SCA Smith & Michael Roberts has shared millions of dollars in spoil as a consequence of the wrongful conviction of TRACEY RICHTER. These videos have been uploaded to many different video sharing platforms including Youtube, Vimeo as well as many other video websites around the globe ...He uploaded so many copies, how does he have that time? It will take me days to write all these websites.”

In January/February 2011, I responded to the following appeal and tip line information posted by Sac County and Iowa State authorities (see screenshot below): “Law enforcement is soliciting the public’s assistance in an effort to resolve [the Dustin Wehde] cold case. Any member of the public with new information regarding this incident or Dustin Wehde is encouraged to call the Sac County Sheriff’s Office … or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation …”

I wanted to report that Michael Roberts, during an emotional episode, at my home confessed to hiring two men to kill Tracey Richter and her children. This is extremely significant because Smith testified for Michael Roberts on May 16, 2012, and testified that, “it denies reality that Michael sent Dustin in to kill Tracey.” Smith testified that none of the evidence and documents I claimed or cited in my reporting existed. Smith denied under oath the previously cited tip line. Smith didn’t just withhold evidence; Smith denied under oath that this tip line existed. Smith also denied the existence of former murder suspect Michael Roberts’ failed polygraph, which I detail later in this report. My reporting exposed that Smith perjured himself when he made these denials.

At some point before the October 2011 trial, Smith befriended Michael Roberts. At trial, Richter asserted that Wehde had come to her home at the request of her then-husband Roberts. The deceased mother, Mona Wehde told police weeks earlier she met with Robert's in secret and agreed to sell the marital real estate holdings without Ms. Richters' knowledge as Mona Wehde was a realtor. The police polygraph results indicated that Roberts lied about Dustin Wehde and the second intruder, as well as other circumstances indicating a motive, opportunity, and connection to the crime scene; despite this, Smith publicly supported Roberts’ claim that he was innocent and that Richter was the culprit. With the support of Smith, Roberts left Iowa (in violation of the judge's order) and was unavailable to appear at the criminal trial because Smith put Roberts in victim witness protection in California. Richter was convicted in November 2011.

Smith continued his friendship with Roberts, and testified on his behalf in civil and international proceedings, as detailed in this report. Smith also married the daughter of Mary Higgins, who was an important State witness from the criminal trial. Mary Higgins also worked on Smith’s election campaign for Sac County Attorney. Also, according to the Richter arrest warrant, statements provided by Higgins were the primary basis for Richter’s arrest.

Below is a screenshot of Michael Roberts’ Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Polygraph Interview, in which Roberts is asked why the polygraph examination he just completed indicated that he was 99% deceptive on the relevant questions.

How SCA Smith Knowingly Perjured Himself about the Existence of Michael Roberts’ Failed Polygraph:

In May 2012, SCA Smith testifies under oath as a witness for Michael Roberts and asserts that there was no failed Roberts polygraph (even though I had already published Roberts’ failed polygraph). Smith testified: “...they say all these things as if they’re absolute, they’re correct. They provide no factual basis for what they say. They talk about a failed polygraph. They talk about having -- that we know this to be true. How do we know this to be true? Please explain things of that nature. They say all these things without any factual basis to back them up. And they always say they have documentation, but they never do.”

This is important because, a year earlier, in Fall 2011, prior to the murder trial, DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta testified under oath in his deposition (State Vs. Richter) that Michael Roberts “failed one” polygraph and “passed two others.” It is worth noting that, of the two polygraphs that Vileta said Roberts passed, one was inconclusive. Further, Vileta made no distinction that the polygraph that Michael Roberts failed was the DCI-administered polygraph and that the two others were paid for by Michael Roberts. Roberts supplied modified questions for the non-DCI administered polygraphs (one of which was inconclusive and the other he passed). I reported that it was odd that Vileta, in his deposition, claimed that Roberts passed two polygraphs when this was not true. Also, I found it odd that Vileta chose to send to Smith the polygraph administered by Michael T. Hanna, which was paid for by Roberts.

On March 3, 2011, 2:34 PM, DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta emailed SCA Smith with Subject: “Roberts Polygraph” and attached: Polygraph hanna.pdf

Michael T. Hanna is a former federal agent who perjured himself in an attempt to convict a defendant in a capital murder case. Go here for details:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1279469.html

 

 

 

 

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Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith used his prosecutorial powers to maliciously and with gross impropriety to retaliate against, stifle and punish anyone including me (Darren M. Meade) for criticism of Smith's conduct, under the pretext of investigating and prosecuting "witness tampering." Now, when confronted about what he did, he tried to put me on the defensive and create a narrative which redirects focus away from himself.

No law enforcement should be allowed to get away with these things he has done. No one should have to go through what I have had to go through nor have to sustain the permanent, horrific damage I have had to sustain for criticizing a prosecutor, reporting on and trying to bring law enforcement's attention to important facts related to a crime. 

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#2 Consumer Comment

So happy For Ed Magedson & Ripoff Report!

AUTHOR: Craig - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, February 20, 2018

GOOD FOR YOU! Everyone familiar with your site knows you've gone through alot: lawsuits, death threats, etc. This is one great moment of vindication. Congratulations on a JOB WELL DONE!  

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#1 Consumer Comment

Ed Thanks for standing up for the little people

AUTHOR: Consumer - (United States)

POSTED: Monday, December 18, 2017

thanks for standing up for the little people.   We need more people like you and in this country to stand up for the little people that don’t have the power that some politicians do have.   Great job and my hats off to you or commitment to get to the bottom of this issue

GREAT JOB, WELL DONE.......

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