Complaint Review: Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney; Charges against Darren Meade dropped! Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismisses all criminal charges against Darren Meade related to his posts on Ripoff Report. | Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith fails to identify false statements, fails to support his accusations with clarifications. - Sac City Iowa
- Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney; Charges against Darren Meade dropped! Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismisses all criminal charges against Darren Meade related to his posts on Ripoff Report. | Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith fails to identify false statements, fails to support his accusations with clarifications.
Sac County Iowa
Sac City, Iowa
United States of America
- Category: Criminal Justice System
**Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Charges against Darren Meade dropped!!!**UPDATE January 1, 2015 * Ripoff Report reveals initial findings, while they race to have documents, articles and other evidence removed from the internet. *Notice: Sac County Iowa Prosecutor’s Allegations Warrant Unprecedented Action from Ripoffreport.com regarding Darren Meade Posts......Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney prosecutorial misconduct, improper relationship with star witnesses, allowing witnesses to knowingly lie, seeking fame not justice, Sac county Iowa corruption. Tracey Richter falsely convicted evidence leads to overwhelming evidence to estranged husband Michael Roberts, Rexxfield failed polygraph, witness intimidation, evidence tampering, Prosecutors improper relationship with witnesses & Michael Roberts. Roberts witness protection sham. Exaggerated, misleading information to Dateline NBC. Sac City, Iowa
*Author of original report: Ben Smith Prosecutorial Misconduct Allowing Witnesses To Knowingly Lie \ Tracey Richter Had Several Million Dollars Stolen By Mile2 and Xellex \ Bounty Shared Amongst Prosecution Witnesses
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Michael Roberts of Rexxfield Exhibits Sings of Battering Personality \ Dr. Heidi Roberts of Finland at Risk!
*Consumer Comment: Silenced in Storm Lake \ Storm Lake Pilot Tribune Violating Free Speech
*General Comment: Michael Roberts of Mile2, Lies, and Audiotapes Causes (Alleged) Perjury of Sac County Attorney Ben Smith Case No CDCD002755
*Consumer Comment: Rexxfield.com Michael Roberts Mental Health Diagnosis / Family History Of Mental Illness / Bipolar and ADHD Lead To Sociopath?
*Consumer Comment: FINAL VERDICT
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Explanation of an Appeal vs write of Habeas Corpus: New Evidence Cannot Be Admitted During the Appeal
*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Sac County Ben Smith and Michael Roberts continues intimidation, threats and scare tactics to keep evidence and documents from the public
*Consumer Suggestion: To silence my reporting, Ben Smith, filed a Criminal Warrant against me and I potentially faces 25 Years in Prison
*Consumer Comment: ETHICS ALERT TABLOID JOURNALIST MICHAEL USHER; HANNAH BOOCOCK; MARK BRITT - DELIBERATE FACTUAL INACCURACIES & LIES / WARNING TO POTENTIAL INTERVIEWEES of disgraced 60 Minutes Australia, Ninemsn
*Consumer Comment: 'Ka-Pow': Des Moines Register Editorial Board whacks Prosecutor Ben Smith over violating Tracey Richter's civil rights
*Consumer Comment: Seriously ???
*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Anatomy of a Murder: A Real-Life Whodunit Corrupt Prosector and His Partner Michael Roberts Rexxfield Authorized Witness Intimidation
*REBUTTAL Individual responds: It has been an age old expression
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Newly discovered facts Michael Roberts Planted The Pink Note Book
*Consumer Comment: Re-investigation Uncovers Evidence of Innocence: Attorney Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Eaves Dropped on Confidential Calls Between Tracey Richter and Defense Counsel
*Consumer Comment: Collateral Murder, there’s something not right about this?
*Consumer Comment: Ben Smith admitted he lied. listened to confidential phone calls and withheld evidence on more than one case. Corruption continues. Michael Roberts learned about dirt on Ben Smith since 2001
*General Comment: I dont understand...
*Consumer Comment: Looks like a typical idiot.
*Consumer Comment: DATELINE NBC POEM...
*Consumer Comment: Finally A Prosecutor Goes To Jail...Ben Smith Next?
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Wrongful Revenge : Ben Smith Send Lovers Wife to Prison
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Federal Drug Task Force in 2002 Blew the Whistle on Mike Roberts 1/2 lb Meth Habit
*REBUTTAL Owner of company: TURNCOAT : Mike Roberts gives up supporters to save himself
*UPDATE Employee: BEN SMITH'S GOOSE IS COOKED
*UPDATE Employee: Ben Smith comes from a long line of corruptors.
*Consumer Comment: Darren,
*Consumer Comment: Jamison White and Orbit Radio
*General Comment: Not her Attorney
*General Comment: Everyone in town called him Crazy Mike Roberts!
*Consumer Comment: How in anyway is this a rip off
*General Comment: Class action lawsuit against Sac County Iowa, Ben Smith
*Consumer Comment: poor little troll
*UPDATE Employee: Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure & DA Ben Smith a*s clown hall of fame
*Consumer Comment: Sac County Board of Supervisors (Dean Stock, Rick Hecht, Ranell Drake, Jack Bensley) corrupt public servants and elected officials? These Types of Issues Never Took Place When Earl Was In Office
*General Comment: New Evidence? Isn't Ben Smith threatening the former Prosecutor to Suppress Evidence For Tracey Richter To Have a Fair Trial Enough?
*Consumer Comment: ROFLMAO
*REBUTTAL Owner of company: The Evidence of Prosecutorial Misconduct and Witness Tampering Cannot Be Introduced Until After The "Direct Appeal" (which mean only evidence from the trial) is exhausted.
*Consumer Comment: Can you explain why none of these issues were raised before the Court of Appeals?
*General Comment: Ok...
*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Richter beautiful?
*General Comment: Sex Offender
*General Comment: LOOK
*Consumer Comment: Iowa;s All Male Supreme Court Rules Employors Can Fire "irresistibly Attractive" Female Employee's
*General Comment: Indicators of an wife abuser?
*Consumer Comment: BOMBSHELL EVIDENCE : Sworn Affidavit Proves Sac County Attorney Suppressed Exculpatory Evidence in the Tracey Richter Murder Trial
*Consumer Suggestion: I was groomed by Michael Roberts as was Dustin Wehde to kill Tracey Richter
*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Iowa Supreme Court found prosecutors had committed misconduct \ Sac County Attorney Ben Smith Simply Following Iowa's Protocol Againt Females and Minorities
*Consumer Comment: Response to "Silenced in Storm Lake"
*General Comment: Like mother like daughter
*General Comment: Thank you
*REBUTTAL Individual responds: Darren Meade is a professional reputation hitman working for Ed Magedson *UPDATE .. From the EDitor - Neither Ripoff Report, nor Ed Magedson engaged, hired or requested Darren Meade to write this story.
A business' first
line of defense
on the Internet.
If your business is
willing to make a
Click here now..
June 1, 2015. Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismissed all charges against Darren Meade on May 27, 2015, with prejudice. That means that Smith stopped prosecuting Meade for the things Meade posted on this website, and Smith cannot change his mind again and re-file the charges. It is not immediately clear what impact this will have on Ripoff Report’s investigation, or whether Ben Smith’s actions simply show that his accusations against Meade for posting reports have no merit. Here is a link to the order dismissing charges against Meade.
In July, 2014, Smith published a vague affidavit claiming that Meade had written false and defamatory things about witnesses in the Tracy Richter Murder trial. Smith later filed criminal charges against Meade, claiming that Meade’s writings and postings were criminal offenses, making further vague accusations that at least some of the things Meade wrote and posted were false and defamatory.
Meade’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss, claiming, among other things, that Smith had no evidence to support that what Meade wrote was false or defamatory and that what Meade wrote is protected by the U.S. Constitution as free speech, and could not be a crime. Meade’s attorney also asked the Court to disqualify Prosecutor Ben Smith from the case for a conflict of interest. Meade’s attorney argued that Smith was retaliating against Meade with the power of his government office, because Meade had made harsh professional criticisms against Smith in his postings on the Ripoff Report.
When the day came for Prosecutor Ben Smith to face Meade’s defense attorney in court, and present some kind of evidence to show that Meade made false statements, Ben Smith gave up instead of fighting. Smith did not present any evidence to show that Meade did anything wrong. Smith did not identify what statements, if any, were supposedly false. Smith did not present any evidence to show that anything Meade wrote was false. Instead, on the morning of the hearing, Ben Smith filed a motion to have the Court dismiss all charges against Meade, with prejudice, so that no charges could ever be re-filed.
As explained in a previous update, Ripoff Report has asked Smith to specifically identify what statements posted on the website about trial witnesses are accused as false statements. He has consistently and repeatedly refused to do that. Now, even after accusing Meade of a crime in court filings, Smith failed to present any proof of false statements, and instead dropped the charges and dismissed the case.
To see this court ruling and other rulings go to out Scribd page:
----- End of Update June 1, 2015 -----
January 1, 2015 - INVESTIGATION UPDATE .. Documents, articles and other evidence removed from the internet to hinder investigation..
RipoffReport.com pledged thoroughly investigate allegations presented in a 124 page Application for a search warrant by Sac County Attorney Ben Smith (Sac County, Iowa). Smith alleged under penalty of perjury that Darren Meade authored and posted false reports on RipoffReport.com about “States witnesses.” But he did not identify what statements he claims to be false statements.
The first question that must be investigated and answered is “What are the false statements?”
Sac County Attorney Ben Smith will not tell us. That impedes Ripoff Report’s investigation.
Ripoff Report will investigate allegedly false statements based on the accusations of Sac County Attorney Ben Smith. However, Ripoff Report cannot start by assuming that every word of every report is in question. In order to make a sufficient investigation with legitimate findings, the accusations must be specific.
The first project in investigation was to read the 124 page Application for a search warrant, including County Attorney Ben Smith’s affidavit under oath, to try to determine exactly what Smith was accusing as a false statement. After reading Smith’s affidavit, it is difficult to tell exactly what he is talking about. The document rambles, and it makes accusatory statements, but it is not clear about the question most basic to the investigation:
What statement that is posted on the RipoffReport.com website is false? Smith really does not answer that question.
What report number?
What sentence or paragraph?
What is the alleged falsehood?
Ben Smith does not identify specific statements with an explanation that they are false. Smith’s affidavit makes general accusations, but avoids making specific identifications of statements that are allegedly not true.
NOTE: Other things that has also impedes our investigation. Smith and or those connected with Ben Smith have gone on a campaign to remove documents, photos, articles and court documents from various websites including Scribd. In some cases using the warrant that was obtained under false pretenses and used in ways that we think are illegal. We are investigating.
So we asked Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith to be more specific.
We sent him this question through an Iowa attorney:
“ . . . Xcentric [RipoffReport] has been investigating your accusation that Darren Meade posted false and defamatory statements of fact on the Ripoff Report webpage. Statements found to be false will be redacted. Xcentric [RipoffReport] has asked me to reach out to you for assistance with this, by helping to identify which statements posted on the Ripoff Report you claim to be factually false.
If you will identify anyitems described above, soon, that would be a good start, and would prove to be very helpful. Xcentric [RipoffReport] understands that you may be able to identify additional posted statements at a later time. The request to immediately identify some specific statements of fact is intended to encourage you to give immediate specific input, if the goal is in fact, as you have stated and written, to provide relief to witnesses in the Richter case, if and where it is appropriate to do so.
Please identify specific statements of fact by providing the number of the report, and if appropriate the identifier of the specific update, comment, or rebuttal, as well as the exact text making the statement you claim is false and defamatory.
My client would like a specific response by the close of business, December 22, 2014. ”
(Quotes from email to Ben Smith. Note: Xcentric Ventures LLC is the company that operates the RipoffReport.com website)
County Attorney Ben Smith did not respond.
Sac County Attorney Ben Smith has also failed to make specific accusations in the criminal charges he personally filed against Darren Meade. Meade’s attorney has been forced to file a “Bill of Particulars” in court in an attempt to force CA Smith to fix the vague accusations, if he can. The Bill of Particulars does an excellent job explaining how CA Smith has been vague in the accusations he makes:
Smith makes only conclusory assertions about which “complaints” or statements he alleges were intended to harass the witness. Without specific reference to the exact “complaints” or statements Smith is alleging Meade published to harass the witnesses [. . .]
(emphasis added) Meade’s attorney points out that CA Smith’s paperwork is vague and sloppy:
[. . .] Smith attached well over a thousand pages of exhibits to the Minutes of Testimony in this action, Smith’s avalanche of almost entirely superfluous paperwork (that has almost nothing to do with Darren Meade and even less to do with anything that Darren Meade may or may not have done in Iowa) does not reveal the exact “defamatory” complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published to harass the witnesses.
(emphasis added) Ripoff Report must agree and note that, in our opinion, the writing of CA Smith’s affidavit in his Application for a search warrant is similarly vague and sloppy.
In the Bill of Particulars Meade’s attorney also explains why that kind of sloppy vagueness is a problem, and possibly a violation of Constitutional Rights from the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech and Press), the Sixth Amendment (fair trial process) and the Fourteenth Amendment (the right to due process of law). Here are some excerpts from that court document, with emphasis made on those points, as well as detailed specifics about the information that is missing from criminal charges against Meade that are directly on point with Ripoff Report’s investigation of accusations in the Application for search warrant:
COMES NOW Darren Mitchell Meade, by and through undersigned counsel, Glen S. Downey, and hereby moves this Honorable Court for an order requiring the county attorney to furnish a Bill of Particulars setting forth the specific nature of the offenses charged in the Trial Information and Minutes of Testimony. As presently constituted, the State’s charges fail to adequately identify the specific acts upon which his charges are based. As grounds for this Motion, it is stated:
1. The September 2, 2014 Trial Information lodged against Meade contains ten counts of general conduct which do not provide Meade under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.11(6) with the necessary information to prepare an adequate defense.
2. In order for counsel to provide effective representation to Meade, and in order for Meade to adequately prepare a defense by making clear the nature and boundary of the charges against him, and in order to avoid prejudicial surprise at trial, the following information is required:
[. . . ]
r. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Marie Friedman in a purported attempted to retaliate against Ms. Friedman for her testimony in State v. Richter;
s. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Mona Wehde in a purported attempted to retaliate against Wehde for her testimony in State v. Richter;
t. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Michael Roberts in a purported attempted to retaliate against Roberts for his testimony in State v. Richter;
[ . . .]
v. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Sac County Sherriff Ken McClure in a purported attempted to retaliate against McClure for his testimony in State v. Richter;
w. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Iowa DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta in a purported attempted to retaliate against Vileta for his testimony in State v. Richter;
x. The exact RipOff Report complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published about Dr. John Pitman in a purported attempted to retaliate against Pitman for his testimony in State v. Richter;
[. . . ]
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.11(6) provides for a bill of particulars as follows:
When an indictment or information charges an offense in accordance with this rule, but fails to specify the particulars of the offense sufficiently to fairly enable the defendant to prepare a defense, the court may, on written motion of the defendant, require the prosecuting attorney to furnish the defendant with a bill of particulars containing such particulars as may be necessary for the preparation of the defense. A motion for a bill of particulars may be made any time prior to or within ten days after arraignment unless the time be extended by the court for good cause shown.
This rule codifies the due process protections afforded by the Sixth Amendment that require the accused be advised of the crime charged with sufficient certainty to enable him to prepare his defense. See Cole v. Arkansas, 222 U.S. 196, 201 (1948); Rosen v. United States, 161 U.S. 29, 40 (1896). Indeed, the purpose of a bill of particulars is to inform the defendant of the nature of the charges against him and to prevent or minimize the element of surprise at trial. United States v. Garrett, 797 F.2d 656, 665 (8th Cir. 1986). A Defendant’s motion to for a bill of particulars should be granted when the Trial Information and Minutes of Testimony fail to apprise him of the particulars of the offense sufficiently to fairly enable him to prepare his defense. State v. Marti, 290 N.W.2d 570 (Iowa).
[. . . ]
Apparently Smith’s theory is that Meade’s investigative journalism was conducted and published with the intent to harass the states witnesses in the Richter case. Apart from the obvious problem that such journalism is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (which shall be asserted separately, along with other issues, in a distinct Motion to Dismiss), Smith makes only conclusory assertions about which “complaints” or statements he alleges were intended to harass the witness. Without specific reference to the exact “complaints” or statements Smith is alleging Meade published to harass the witnesses, Meade has no ability to prepare a defense to such charges.
Although Smith attached well over a thousand pages of exhibits to the Minutes of Testimony in this action, Smith’s avalanche of almost entirely superfluous paperwork (that has almost nothing to do with Darren Meade and even less to do with anything that Darren Meade may or may not have done in Iowa) does not reveal the exact “defamatory” complaints or statements that Meade allegedly published to harass the witnesses. At a bare minimum, Smith and the State have an obligation to provide due process to Meade and inform him of the exact statements that they intend to show were meant to harass the State’s witnesses. Cole v. Arkansas, 333 U.S. 196, 201 (1948) (holding that the due process guarantees of the fourteenth amendment requires the accused to be advised of the specific charge against him).
WHEREFORE, Defendant Meade moves the court to compel the State to plead the witness tampering, on-going criminal conduct and obstructing prosecution with sufficient particularity as to allow Meade to mount a constitutionally adequate defense.
(Darren Meade’s Motion to Disqualify County Attorney Smith for conflict of interest, excerpts)
It may be significant that Sac County Attorney Ben Smith did not file any dispute against Meade’s Bill of Particulars. Perhaps Smith admits, at least tacitly, that the accusations he made in his criminal charge and in the Application for a search warrant are too vague and unspecific to be investigated. On December 1, 2014, there was a court hearing on both the Bill of Particulars and Meade’s Motion to Disqualify Smith. There is one paragraph in Sac County Attorney Ben Smith’s Resistance to the Motion to Disqualify that MAY be his answer about what statements specific statements he claims are false.
Defendant’s “complaints” concerning the undersigned and the State’s witnesses are nonsensical and unworthy of belief on any level. It is not the substantive content of Defendant’s “complaints” which are damaging the State’s witnesses beyond repair, but rather the search engine optimization (SEO) techniques Defendant used to cause his “complaints” to appear at the top of the first page of Google-type search results, juxtaposed and associated with reprehensible criminal conduct.
(Sac County Attorney Ben Smith’s Resistance to Meade’s Motion to Disqualify)
First, let us admit that it is not clear what Smith is talking about. His phrase “Defendant’s ‘complaints’ concerning the undersigned [Smith] and the State’s witnesses” refers to every posting Meade made about Smith and any State’s witness in the Richter murder trial, without limitation. That is not very specific. He seems to be saying that it is NOT the substance of the postings that are the problem, but the fact that the posting appear at the top of search engine results “juxtaposed and associated” with other bad things. Is he actually be saying that Meade’s postings are not factually false, but they are damaging because of outside factors? To be fair, he does say that they are “nonsensical and unworthy of belief on any level” but it is not clear exactly what that means, and it is certainly not specific or precise.
Second, let us make an editorial comment. It is a complete abuse of government power for a prosecutor to make vague and sloppy accusations in a criminal charge. Imagine if you were charged by a prosecutor for “bank robbery” but you never robbed a bank. In order to defend yourself you would need to know specific accusations. What bank? What date? What time? What evidence suggests that you were the bank robber? If the prosecutor refused to be specific, you would stand accused and charged of a crime with no ability to defend yourself. In this case Sac County Attorney Ben Smith has accused Meade of making false statements about “States witnesses” but he will not identify which statement or which witness or what exactly was false. The Constitution forbids exactly the kind of abuse of power.
If Sac County Attorney Smith would identify specific statements that he claims are false, Ripoff Report would investigate those statements. If those statements are false, the Ripoff Report will redact them. That invitation is open. If Ben Smith is sincere, he should take advantage of that and point out what he claims to be false.
Unfortunately, at present, the most important thing to update this investigation is that the accusations Sac County Attorney Ben Smith made in the Application for Search Warrant are so vague and sloppy that they impede an investigation into whether statements made by Meade are true or false. As constituted, the accusations in the Warrant Application require Ripoff Report to mostly guess what statements Smith might really think are false. The Bill of Particular’s filed by Meade’s attorney may force Smith to shed light on this most important preliminary question. Ripoff Report will monitor the outcome of that in court, in hopes that Smith will be forced to make specific accusations.
Read more in a recent Editorial here..
More to come …
UPDATE December 2014 - ED Magedson Victimized by Ben Smith Sac County Iowa County Attorney Prosecutor 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. Read this.
*NOTICE: July 13, 2014: Ripoff Report Launches Full Investigation!!! Sac County Iowa Prosecutor’sAllegations Warrant Unprecedented Action from Ripoffreport.com regarding Darren Meade Posts.
RipoffReport.com will thoroughly investigate allegations presented in a 124 page affidavit by County Prosecutor Ben Smith of Sac County Iowa. Smith alleged under penalty of perjury that Darren Meade authored and posted false reports on RipoffReport.com about at least four specific people. If RipoffReport.com's investigation reveals that any of the allegations made in any post about those witnesses contain false statements of fact, the false facts will be redacted from the postings. "We will get to the bottom of Ben Smith's allegations and publish the evidence and conclusions," states Ripoff Report Editor and Founder Ed Magedson.
Author Darren Meade's writings (some of which are in this link list) (see email from Darren Meade) challenge the fairness and credibility of the homicide investigation, trial, murder conviction, and subsequent treatment of Iowa mother Tracy Richter at the hands of County Prosecutor Ben Smith and Michael Roberts (Rexxfield), Tracy Richter's former husband. The Previous County Prosecutor had declined to prosecute Richter, who claims to have been acting in defense of herself and her children against multiple attackers when she shot at Dustin Whede during a home invasion in December of 2001. Ed Magedson had been convinced by Meade that the shooting was morally and legally justified and that an innocent woman was imprisoned.
While County Prosecutor Smith's affidavit contains certain incorrect assertions and many material omissions, it also raises some shocking facts, sufficient to justify a full investigation by Ripoffreport into Meade's assertions and motivations.
Ripoff Report's investigation is an unprecedented action for the consumer website. Ripoff Report accepts reports from authors who certify the honesty of the content of their reports, and encourages rebuttals to provide readers with both sides of a disputed story. Generally, Ripoff Report allows the public, the courts or an independent arbitrator to judge the truth and does not do an investigation to supplement or challenge postings. Gathering evidence and passing judgment on the statements of outside authors departs from its standard practice.
County Prosecutor Smith's aggressive actions justify extraordinary measures. Smith not only states that Darren Meade's factual allegations are false, he asserts that they violate Iowa's criminal laws and that Ed Magedson knowingly conspired with Meade and others. Ed Magedson did no such thing.
County Prosecutor Smith has used the full power of his elected office in attempts to crush criticism of his prosecution and he has relied heavily on advice, information and guidance from Michael Roberts, a known liar and extortionist. Roberts was involved in a scheme to illegally hack the Ripoff Report website and Roberts attempted to sell information regarding the hack to Ripoff Report for €105,000. http://www.ripoffreport.com/lhc/common/files/MichaelRobertsRexxfieldAttemptedExtortion.pdf
As a website dedicated to providing a voice to the common person through open information and free speech rights, Ripoff Report asserts its own voice on these matters of public interest and concern, and pledges full investigation of the issues.
As progress is made with our investigation, it will be posted here as an UPDATE to this statement.
Now to the original report that was posted …
Review: DateLine NBCs Twisted is a Case Study in Prosecutorial Misconduct
News Analysis and Opinion
Dateline NBCs episode Twisted is a totally exhaustive, fully encompassing story about dangerous people. Once you digest this, more articles will follow. The Genesis will be the Tracey Richter case but we will cover the several million dollars in business revenues shared between the key prosecution witnesses, how the Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith played into that, and the mastermind they hid away, ingeniously making him impossible to subpoena.
Tracey Richter and her fianc Russell Schertz
Ive been looking into ancillary matters related to this story for nearly a year now, and I can say without question there is far more to this than what appeared on DateLine NBC.
Why would the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Sac County Prosecutor go to such lengths to prosecute an innocent woman? In future articles we will detail how they are protecting a person who can tamper with a jury verdict in ANY trial, but that is for another time.
In this lucid discussion of the significant revelations of systemic wrongdoing in Sac County and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, well uncover how the culture of Iowa is different from that of other states, and that denying the truth is woven into its ethos. Moreover, it perverts justice for purposes that are unique to a cast of characters, and have nothing to do with protecting the public. Perhaps this is why Iowa has had an 80% rise in prosecutorial misconduct appeals in the last decade. Watching the travesty of justice of the Tracey Richter trial crack wide open over the last few weeks has left me puzzled.
We can say things like, Ultimate responsibility goes to the man at the top, meaning Ben Smith, Sac County Attorney and Prosecutor. And that sounds right, but it still doesnt explain how any of it happened. The key people are criminals, liars, or willfully blind. We could say that, but then we would have to explain how so many of them ended up in Iowa. Puzzles like these have led many people to the conclusion that theres a culture inside the prosecutors office that is responsible in some way, and I agree with that. This is not just about one individual, but about the culture of an organization. Prosecutors and investigators do not routinely break the law, tamper with juries, intimidate and mislead witnesses, and generally conduct themselves like thugs unless it is a matter of recognized and understood policy.
Consider the powers of the prosecutor The prosecutor decides:
- Whether or not to bring criminal charges
- Who to charge
- What the charges will be
- Whether the charges will be misdemeanor or felony
- Whether the person charged will stand trial or plead out
- What sentence the judge should give
A prosecutors power to invoke or deny punishment at his discretion is the power to control and destroy peoples lives. Professor Bennett Gershman
A Short and to-the-Point Overview
Hiding the Good Stuff \ Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (IDCI)
Trick #1 - They Avoided Gathering Favorable Evidence IDCI and Sac County law enforcement never interviewed Michael Roberts after his 99% deceptive polygraph about his knowledge or involvement in the home invasion.
Trick #2 - They Avoided Gathering Favorable Evidence IDCI and Sac County law enforcement refused to follow-up February 2011 information that Michael Roberts had manipulated another mentally unstable man he was mentoring to commit murder to protect Roberts business interests.
Trick #3 - They Avoided Gathering Favorable Evidence Prosecutor Ben Smith had documented proof of a Hacking Code that tampered with the jury via the Internet. This included information of an alleged juror admitting he was tampered with. Rather than investigate, Ben Smith sent the confidential information to The Hacker who tampered with the jury.
Trick #4 They Avoided Gathering Favorable Evidence IDCI and Sac County law enforcement had a city employee and her husband Clean the bedroom (murder scene) and then released the murder scene within the initial 24-hours to the primary suspect, Michael Roberts.
Trick #5 They Avoided Gathering Favorable Evidence IDCI and Sac County law enforcement realized the error they made in releasing a crime scene within 24-hours to the primary suspect who then failed his polygraph about the murder. In order to keep him from impugning the prosecutions case, they allowed him to stay in a Witness Protection program where he could not be served a subpoena.
Trick #6 - Someone Had a Favorable Position to the Defense IDCI Special Agent Vileta is alleged to have misled and tampered with primary witness Mona Wehde, who believed Michael Roberts shot her son. Wehde testified Vileta assured Roberts had been interviewed and cleared, yet no interview from Vileta was produced for trial. Vileta claims he never interviewed Michael Roberts.
Trick #7 - When Someone Did Say Something Favorable for the Defense, They Didn't Write It Down.
Trick #8 Prime Investigator Lost Critical Documents All Special Agent Viletas correspondence with Michael Roberts7 sheets of notes authored by Dustin, 2 post-it notes authored by Dustin, and a 3rd Notebook, were lost by Trent Vileta.
Trick #9 - Permitted Destruction of Evidence and Intimidation of Potential Defense Witnesses
Click here to watch this segment
- Michael Roberts had an arrest and conviction for domestic battery filed under Sac County Domestic and Child Abuse Report # 2000-00407, Trial Notice CASE NO 02811 SMCR008251 (see document here page 2). His plea deal took nearly a year to arrange (see document page 3). He was arrested for Domestic Assault in 2000. He was set for trial over the assault in 2001. DateLine had this material fact in error.
- Michael Roberts was Founded (Confirmed and Placed) on the Central Abuse Registry by the Iowa Department of Human Services on 3/21/2007 (see report here) for the abuse of Noah Roberts and Mason Roberts. Noah and Mason are the half-brother and sister to Burt Pitman who was featured in the DateLine NBC segment, Twisted.
- Michael Roberts pled No Contest to the charge, which under Iowa law is a conviction. The conviction forbids him from gun ownership under the Domestic Violence Gun Ban and equally violates the Iowa Domestic Battery Firearm restriction laws.
- Michael Roberts first known violation of violating the domestic violence gun ban was on July 22, 2002 from Carolina Sporting Arms, 110 East Kingston Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28203 (704) 375-7987
For some prosecutors the risk of losing a criminal trial is unacceptable. Although the evidence of guilt may be sufficient, and a conviction likely, a prosecutor knows he faces an aggressive adversary and an unpredictable jury. A prosecutor also knows that he must present his case consistent with a broad array of constitutional statutory, evidentiary, and ethical proscription designed to minimize unfair prejudice and assure the defendant a fair trial... Some prosecutors find these rules too confining and seek to circumvent them. For such a prosecutor, the risk of losing a trial far outweighs the risk of losing the subsequent appeal. Prosecutorial Misconduct, Second Edition, by Bennett L. Gershman (Page 10-3)
The Plot Was Engineered & Executed
Click here to watch this segment
Blatant Untruths of Ben Smith and Mary Higgins
- February 13th, 2002 Michael Roberts fails his polygraph and is found 99% deceptive on the only questions pertaining too if he knew, planned or took part in the home invasion.
- Michael Roberts then admits that he told Dustin about John Pitman and didnt paint a very pretty picture. Michael Roberts in an earlier segment with DateLine professes he wanted to kill him speaking of John Pitman.
- December 26, 2008, Mona Wehde states that Special Agent Vileta changed Mona Wehdes belief that Michael Roberts had killed Dustin by assuring her he had interviewed and cleared Michael Roberts (see document here pages 105 lines 9-25 and page 106 lines 1-15)
- January 20, 2009, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations on an internal memo still lists Michael Roberts as a suspect (see document here).
- September 23, 2011, Trent Vileta states he never interviewed Michael Roberts and left him out of what he did (see pages 47 & 48) Michael Roberts fails his polygraph on February 13, 2002. The attack took place on December 13, 2001. The Roberts left on a pre-planned family vacation the following week. Viletas excuse for not investigating Roberts is that Roberts was extensively interviewed in 2001.
- October 2010, Trent Vileta admits he is biased and has tunnel vision. In an email copied to Sheriff McClure he states he is having a hard time appearing to be neutral.
- November 2010, Ben Smith is elected and Vileta begins sharing his self-admitted biased information that leads to Tracey Richter being charged with the murder of Dustin Wehde.
- February 2011, Information is provided that Michael Roberts on information and belief has manipulating another mentally unstable man to commit murder on his behalf, the caller even states he fears this person will become Dustin Wehde #2
- Mary Higgins helps generously in Ben Smiths election campaign.
- Ben Smith became romantically involved with Mary Higginss daughter and while having and drinks at the Higginss house, Ben starts to describe the case and secret evidence (Notebook).
- On December 13, 2001, within the first 24 Hours of the shooting, the crime scene bedroom is cleaned by a city employee and her husband and released to prime suspect Michael Roberts.
- One-hour after Michael Roberts has the crime scene released, he claimed to have found additional shell casing missed by CSI investigators who processed the bedroom.
Theres so much going on in Twisted, you need more than two hours to dissect it. Its a gritty, edgy, uncomfortable episode in my opinion to watch the prosecutor, lead investigator, and star witness utilize all the tricks #1 9 above.
Mary Higgins claimed to be Traceys best friend and was spooked that her friend continued to change contact information, crossing out and putting down new information. Why? As a best friend, she knew Michael received money from the bank for a home equity loan without telling Tracey, and purchased a home for another woman, in Florida (Andrea Berger). Tracey's husband even married another woman while still married to Tracey, and that he continually violated protective orders. In 2007, Michael Roberts was placed on the Child Abuse Registry for abusing Noah and Mason as he previously did Bert according to Higgins.
And Higgins must have known that Michael Roberts through a company called Mile2, stole Traceys identity and that law enforcement advised her she should legally change her name (see document), which she did.
According to a supplemental report filed by Sheriff Ken McClure, Robyn Padgett explained she spoke to Mary Higgins often and that Mary Higgins was always trying to get Padgett to befriend Tracey Roberts, Padgett always felt Higgins was trying to get information from Padgett. If Higgins and Richter were best friends why was she trying to have Padgett befriend Tracey to get information? The supplemental report goes onto say Padgett also told Mary Higgins about the Notebook found in Dustin Wehdes bedroomwith coded writing. Coded writing is important because the writing in the notebook in Dustins car, the secret evidence was also considered bizarre. But this notebook had the name Ilka Pitman; if you change the letters in Ilka you have a phonetic codeKill A Pitman(See Sheriff's Supplemental Report here, notice 2nd page 2nd paragraph) Remember Dustins mentor earlier on DateLine said he wanted to kill John Pitman. Dustins mentor after failing his polygraph confessed he told Dustin about John Pitman and would not have painted a very pretty picture.
Mary claimed she helped clean up Traceys home after the shooting. Yet the police report clearly states within hours they had a city worker and her husband clean the crime scene and release the home to Michael Roberts.
Michael Robert claimed to have then cleaned the home and located shell casings within an hour of taking possession of the home that were missed by CSI investigators. The scene was already cleaned twice as documented by police reports, yet, nowhere in the police reports did it mention the participation of Mary Higgins.
Special Agent Trent Vileta had already confessed he was having a hard time appearing neutral. He was already biased and was building a case to validate his theory versus collecting evidence and investigating the facts. That being said, everything Vileta supplied to Ben Smith was already biased.
In his mentorship of Dustin, Michael Roberts had Dustin work on creative writing exercises that often were violent in nature. Roberts after his failed polygraph admitted he told Dustin details about John Pitman and dont forget in the other notebook, Kill a Pitman. The super-secret evidence, the Pink Notebook was photographed at the crime scene, and listed under section two of the Vehicle Interior.
Dustin Wehde Car Inventory Which List Pink Spiral Notebook (View large version)
Examination Pink Lined Spiral Notebook, the notebook is also mentioned in multiple police reports and even states that the writing in the notebook was bizarre. The crime scene photos were heavily circulated and a civil lawsuit in 2004 put all of this into public record. The crime scene photos were shown to me personally in 2010 by Michael Roberts.
Ben Smith is having dinner and drinks at his girlfriends parents house who were also generous campaign supporters and helped get Ben Smith elected. At some point, Ben starts to describe the case and the secret evidence (notebook) and according to Mary she says you mean that stupid notebook? If the information is supposed to be secret, why is Ben Smith describing it? More to the point, Ben turned white and slid to the floor when he heard stupid notebook but three (3) notebooks had already been a part of evidence, he should not have been shocked over a notebook.
It is preposterous to think that a solution to losing child support is for Tracey to frame the payer of her child support with a capital offense. If the Pitman went to jail the child support would fall to 0 ZERO! Tracey had already signed off on a Vail condominium in exchange for Berts father (John Pitman) to pay for Berts college. If John went to jail, Tracey would have to pay for Berts college, a daunting task for a single mother with 3 kids.
My heart goes out to Mona Wehde, as I sincerely believe her trust was betrayed by Michael Roberts, Trent Vileta, and Ben Smith. I lost my father to suicide, and I know first-hand the desire to try and cherish and honor their memories.
Mona first trusted Michael Roberts with the mentoring of her son, and he broke that trust. That is what made me call law enforcement in Iowa in February 2011, fear that a new young man was going to become Dustin Wehde #2.
Michael Roberts had convinced another man whom I believe he was manipulating mentally and sexually to plot to kill me, the talk even centered on using a .50 caliber hollow point bullet to explode my brain. This was to be done to protect Michael Robertss business interest.
If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. In such cases it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it; it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. Therein if the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people who he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. It is in this realm in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political group, being attached to the wrong political views or being personally obnoxious to, or in the way of, the prosecutor himself.
Supreme Court Justice / United States Attorney General / Nuremburg Prosecutor Robert Jackson, 1940
Ben Smith admits to Dateline he would willfully lie as an officer of the court to protect his own mother if roles were reversed. In Twisted, did he lie to protect his potential future mother-in-law who became his star witness, and violate Tracey Richters due process?
Twisted is a dangerous segment. I cant remember a time in recent memory when I watched a Dateline and wondered what the prosecutor, star witness, and lead investigator might allegedly lie about next, and you quickly understand this trial was a crude conviction machine versus an instrument of justice. The Tracey Richter case was nothing more than a sham to protect the business opportunities of key prosecution witnesses and Sac City Attorney Ben Smith, himself.
A Mystifying Break In
In late 2001, to most people in the small town of Early, Iowa, Tracey Richter was a hero. A woman who stood up for her family and did the unthinkable, breaking away from an intruder who had just attempted to garrote her with pantyhose, grabbing a pistol from a bedroom safe, and shooting him nine times until he stopped moving. All of this while her three children huddled in a nearby bedroom, fearing for their lives. In a community of only 600, crimes this grisly are rare. But what added an extra element of mourning to the towns grief and shock was that the break in was led by a local, someone most folks knew, someone the Roberts family knew wellDustin Wehde. His mother, Mona, was a respected real estate agent in the area. And Dustin didnt appear bent on robbery but murder. Why?
A Bizarre Twist
Why would Dustin Wehde seek to harm a family he knew so well? A family who had befriended him? Michael Roberts had reached out to Dustins Mother offering to mentor him, taking him paintballing and to church with the family. He was in every sense a friend of Michael Roberts, someone who had been over to the Roberts house on many occasions. He was the last person Tracey imagined would harm them. And then there was the case of the second intruder. The only description they had of the man who fled was that he was 6 feet tall, 25 to 35 years old, with a slender build and dark wavy hair. Michael Roberts, in an interview with a local paper, The Register, confirmed he believed the other man was behind the attack and Dustin was under the influence of the other personthe boss. That same week Michael Roberts posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the 2nd intruder, evidently believing strongly in his existence. For the Sac County Sheriff, the circumstances surrounding the break in left too many troubling questions to close it out as robbery attempt gone bad. The Sheriff and his investigators surmised someone had put Dustin up to it, and they theorized that someone had probably paid him to commit the crime. Disturbing pornography was mentioned in police reports and by witnesses causing the speculation that Dustin Wehde and Michael Roberts had a sexual relationship. Could this have been a crime of passion?
An Eye Witness
The night Tracey Richters life changed forever her last name was Roberts. It was early evening on December 13, 2001 and Tracey was upstairs bathing her young daughter Mason. Eleven-year-old Bert was in his bedroom watching Spy Kids with three-year-old Noah. It was after six and her husband had been out of town on a business trip so when she heard noises downstairs, she went out onto the landing and called downstairs, thinking hed returned a few hours early. No one answered, so she called again. The stairs were dark and two figures ascended the stair case, everything in her body told her they were not friendly. Bert came out of the room, and she handed off the baby to him, telling him to get in his room, close the door.
Before she could escape, the first intruder wrapped a nylon pantyhose around her neck, attempting to garrote her, leaving her neck severely bruised. She broke away and was able to retrieve a gun from her bedroom and she shot at Dustin, stopping a further attack in her bedroom. The second intruder was heard shouting: the B*tch has a gun, and fled. She was able then to check on the children, and get them safely downstairs to call 9-1-1.
A Cold Case
Investigators eventually honed in on her husband, Michael Roberts, as a suspect. The police knew they had a volatile marital relationship. They had the police reports that proved his physical abuse of Tracey. Iowa Department of Human Services found that Michael Roberts had abused both his young son and daughter. Their family business was either making millions of dollars or struggling financially, depending on who you spoke with. Tracey had a considerable life insurance policy as did the children. Michael had an alleged alibi for his whereabouts that Thursday night, so he was ruled out as the second intruder, but not as the mastermind behind the plot to kill Tracey and her children. What immediately had caught the sheriffs attention were the results of his polygraph test. Four weeks after the incident Michael had flunked a police test. The police asked if he had planned and arranged for Dustin to enter his house on December 13; if he knew the identity of the second intruder. He answered no to these along with two other questions and the tester concluded with a 99% certainty his answers were deceptive. By the time a sheriffs detective sat down across from Michael Roberts in 2003 and asked him point blank how much he had paid Dustin to kill his wife, the Sheriff was pretty certain they had come to right conclusion. But Michael denied it. Continued to deny it, and he never broke from his story. When Sheriff McClures investigators brought the case to Sac County Prosecuting Attorney, Earl Hardisty, he refused to prosecute. There were several factors in his decision, but his refusal centered on the contamination of the crime scene by the paramedics and the police and the poor forensic work by the investigators at the crime scene. The case went cold as far as the cops were concerned. Michael and Tracey went on with their fragile marriage that finally ended in 2008.
Mona Wehde continued to mourn for her dead son; nagged by the belief Dustin could have never done this on his own. She even had a theory about the second intruder but no one ever took her seriously. Her private grief began to turn in 2007 when she received a call from Special Agent Trent Vileta. He had been handed the cold case of the Dustin Wehde shooting and had uncovered some new evidence, evidence that would take the case in an entirely new direction. And if that evidence panned out, it could bring a measure of closure to her pain.
Life in Prison
Special Agent Vileta compiled his facts and bided his time. And when a new Sac County DA took office in January 2011, Vileta laid out his case to the young aggressive prosecutor, Ben Smith. On July 26, 2011 Tracey Richter was arrested on charges of first degree murder in the shooting death of Dustin Wehde, and a year later was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. What had Special Agent Vileta uncovered, and how had he conveyed it to county attorney, Ben Smith who convinced a jury of her peers to find her guilty of first degree murder? How were these new facts so compelling that even an eye witness to the break in and shooting were impugned as lying? How had it come about that the man whom most in town were convinced had committed this crime now had custody of the couples two children, and the mother who had fought to save them, was now a convicted killer serving life in prison? Did the defense attorneys know about the ethical lapses on the part of the prosecutor? Did Ben Smith uphold the ethical duty of his office to seek justice no matter the cost to his case?
These are some of the questions that must be answered in order to understand why Tracey Richter is in jail for life.
Compiling the Evidence
Back when he first received the case, Special Agent Trent Viletas first assignment was to find a motive for the crime. He early discounted the failed polygraph of Michael Roberts, claiming on tape that Michael didnt believe in the second intruder, which in his mind explained the deceptive results of the test. This directly contradicts Michaels own statements to both the press, which is cited earlier, and to the public in offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the second intruder. Why would Special Agent Vileta make such a spurious claim in contradiction to the facts as they were publically known? Had his objective judgment already been so impaired by his determination to see Tracey tried for murder that the facts no longer mattered? Nevertheless, Special Agent Vileta believed he was onto something, and at this point whatever facts didnt fit into his theory had to be in some way recast.
He zeroed in his investigative energy on Tracey. By fleshing out her background and earlier relationship with her first husband John Pitman, he began to develop a profile of a woman who in theory could pull the trigger on a friend. She was a gun owner, as was Michael, and Pitman claimed she had brandished a gun at him in a family argument. But was that the whole truth of that incident? Was Roberts here doing exactly what county prosecutor Smith would later claim Tracey was doing in setting up the murder plotwas Roberts simply taking a situation out of context in order to make himself look good in a child support dispute? But Vileta was on the trail of something and continued digging through her past until he could theorize with confidence that her past behavior proved she could murder Dustin in cold blood.
But why would Vileta so easily dismiss a proven scientific conclusion in favor of flimsy circumstantial evidence against the victim? It must have been something he found in her background because he called her a con from way back. She had never struck anyone. But what about Dustins, documented and erratic and violent behaviour? (see document here) What about Michaels physically abusive relationshiop with his kids and his own wife? By the standards Vileta had set up anyone of these were capable of pulling the trigger. But Vileta was on a mission. Those facts didnt enter into his equation. Vileta showed a distinct pattern in the investigation of discounting any evidence that didnt fit into his theory. Take Mona Wehdes sworn statement in 2002, her adamant assertion she had been manipulated in a love affair by a local con man and Mafia thug in order to gain her confidence, access to her house, her phone, and her real estate office, where she had a key to the Roberts home because of her real estate business. Despite a promise to marry Mona and run away from his wife, the man, Jeremy Collins, disappeared days after the murder. He paid off his car, his house, quit his job, and he and his wife moved away. Mona never saw him again. Heartbroken by the loss of her child and now duplicity of her illicit lover, she was mortified she might have been unwittingly involved in the murder plot of her own son. She said as much in a sworn deposition to the police in February 2002. Mona went on to say that she knew Jeremy was involved in a range of illegal activitiesmoney laundering, drug dealing, murder for hire, and more. Jeremy had even spoken to her son, according to phone records, calling her house when she couldnt have been home, and only Dustin had been. Could this have been the mysterious man Dustins notebook referred to?
Duty bound to follow up on such an auspicious lead, Special Agent Vileta took a plane ride to Germany to interview Jeremy Collins. While he did file a report, it only consisted of the fact that he asked Collins four questions. The alibi Collins gave if followed up by Vileta would have proven false and only a single sheet of paper even showed the interview had taken place. No need. Collins didnt fit into Viletas theory of why Tracey shot Dustin.
Its impossible to pinpoint what exactly caused Vileta or when he crossed over the line from neutral servant of the law to a biased investigator, intent on proving the guilt of Tracey Richter. But the fact he did came from his own admission to his boss in an e-mail where he reported that he was having trouble appearing to be neutral. He was now a biased investigator, and he wanted Tracey Richter indicted for murder, and in order to do that he had to fake it. He had to keep his bias to himself; he had to appear to be objectively examining the evidence as it came to him. Because thats what the law required of him; because thats what servants of the law are sworn to do.
His only problem was his boss, Sac County Attorney, Earl Hardisty. He had refused to indict anyone for the charges simply because the evidence as he saw it was flimsy. The crime scene had been too contaminated by emergency responders and police. Then there was the issue of the crime scene itself undergoing a cleaning by city employees and then released to Michael Roberts within 24 hours. Shortly after taking the house back over, Roberts found a shell casing the CSI investigators had missed and brought it to the police. Within weeks Roberts fails a polygraph and becomes the prime suspect. The fact that Michael had failed a police polygraph was an obstacle that none of the investigators could get around in pursuing suspects in the case. In the original investigative reports compiled by Sac County Sheriffs Investigator in 2002 tell Michael Roberts hes convinced the man knows more about the crime than hes saying. Michael immediately ended the conversation.
Michaels refusal to cooperate and the deceptive results from the polygraph combined with the shoddy police work on the crime scene convinced the veteran prosecutor Hardisty that charges against Richter wouldnt hold up in court. But none of this stymied Special Agent Vileta. He had a theory to prove, and he was determined to explain the truth as he saw it.
Examining the crime scene nearly eight years after the fact, after all the forensic evidence had been wiped clean and long ago disappeared; Vileta determined that innocent Dustin must have been lured to his death. The trajectories of the bullets proved beyond a doubt, Tracey had casually stood by the side of the bed and fired away at a young man who could not have been attacking her. This was a conclusion no other Sac County officer had been able to come to, but Special Agent Vileta could and did. With the crime scene evidence along with his profile on Tracey and his explanation of Michaels failed polygraph, he now had his proof. But what Vileta didnt have was a cooperative prosecutor who would see things his way. Not until January 1, 2011 when the new man moved into the county prosecutors office, one Ben Smith.
What seemed like a mysterious clue with unknown relevance to the previous investigators, to Ben Smith, the new DA, it was the prized last piece of a complicated puzzle, one he had been searching for since he first heard of the case. Ben had a meticulous way about his drive for justice, and he combed through the old case files and found that one piece of evidence that he claimed investigators had never disclosed existeda pink notebooka clue police didnt intend to announce until they understood its relevance. It belonged to Dustin and it was found in the front seat of his car parked outside Traceys house. It was a journal of sorts in Dustins handwriting, one of three notebooks found that mentioned the name Pitman. Among other entries were cryptic references to Traceys child custody struggles with her first husband, Chicago physician, John Pitman. There was also a reference to a mysterious man who had contacted him about killing Tracey. Smith knew the notebook was top secret and so one night when he was at dinner at his girlfriends house, he mentioned to Mary Higgins, his girlfriends mother, that there was more to the Tracey Richter shootings than most people know about. When Mary replied, Oh, you mean that stupid notebook, it was then Smith experienced a moment of epiphany worthy of Sherlock Holmes. It doesnt at all defy imagination to assume that evening and on subsequent times, the new prosecutor Ben Smith and his former campaign worker, Mary Higgins, discussed at length their concerns about the guilt or innocence of Tracey Richter. But what about that night at dinner? At the very least they discussed how he had just connected the dots in the murder case he intended to file against Tracey.
The connection Smith said he made that night at Marys home was that Tracey could not have known about the notebook and its contents unless she had fed Dustin the incriminating information about John Pitman herself. Tracey must also have wanted the notebook to be discovered, and somehow made sure Dustin carried it around in his car. From there he concluded that all of the physical evidence in the case was a lie created by Tracey to cover up the real facts: at the time of the break in Tracey was in the midst of a nasty child custody dispute with John Pitman. Smith theorized that she had planted the information about Pitman to pin the break in on him. And in order to complete her monstrous scheme, she lured Dustin to the house that night, then upstairs into her bedroom, and then shot him down in cold blood, then injured her own neck with a pair of pantyhose, made up the story about the second intruder, coached her young sons (Bert and Noah) in what to say happened, and then called 911.
But what if Smith didnt mention outright that he thought Tracey was guilty of first degree murder. What if had merely implied that she had done it? Do words have to be spoken in order for a servant of the law to communicate an opinion of guilt or innocence? Every law school student knows that prosecutors are bound by the highest ethical standards to assure every defendant receives a fair trial. Thats there sworn duty. Thats how our justice system works. And therefore they are duty bound not to prejudice a witness or a jury by communicating an opinion about the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Courts recognize the power of prosecutors facial expressions and body language to unfairly influence a jury, and when it is done, intentionally or unintentionally, they consider it prosecutorial misconduct. Mary said in an interview with Dateline that Ben went white at the moment of recognition of Marys knowledge of the notebook. She knew what was going through Bens mind. Why would she remember the incident so vividly if she didnt think Ben was convinced Tracey had committed murder and not an act of self-defense? This is a reasonable assumption; one that is only amplified by Marys other statements regarding the meaning of the multiple identities of Tracey Richter. We dont know exactly when Mary cobbled together the other disparate details she knew regarding Tracey Richter, and turned her friend of many years into a murderess in her mind, but its fair to say it happened about or shortly after that dinner with Ben Smith. If not why would that night be so central to the memory of both of them?
The question that begs to be asked is would the murder trial of Tracey Richter have had a different outcome if the key prosecutors witness had not been unfairly prejudiced and unduly influenced? Its not unreasonable to doubt that with this kind of behind the scenes influencing of one witness, it would become impossible for Tracey to get a fair trial in the small counties surrounding Early, Iowa.
The prosecutions case turned on two key witnesses. First, was Mary Higgins. Mary, as we will see later, from the beginning had an insatiable interest in digging into Tracey Richters life. Second, was Burt Pittman, who was only 11 at the time of the crime, but ten years later he was even more adamant about his memories of that evening. The trial hinged on who the jury would believe, a town busy-body and friend of the prosecutor, or the only eye-witness to the gruesome event other than the victim herself.
But if Smith was going to convince a jury of his theory hed need to impugn the eye witness testimony of Burt. At trial he would have to convince a jury Traceys son had never seen what he said he saw or heard what he said he heard. And he would have to convince the jury of Mary Higgins credibility. She became his star witness. Even though she was a longtime friend of Tracey, she was also someone with her ear to ground in Early who seemed to have at her disposal so many details about Tracey Richters life. Details she was more than willing to pass along to Ben Smith. And Ben Smith never fulfilled his duty to the public by disclosing to the defense his full and true relationship with Mary Higgins. It wasnt until after Mary was deposed by the defense counsel that their prior relations came to light. When questioned by the judge, Ben Smith assured him he was merely an acquaintance of Marys, and his real friend was her husband. But if thats the case, why didnt Smith disclose all of this beforehand. He had an ethical duty to do so. Was this ethical lapse on Ben Smiths part intentional? Or is it just part of a larger pattern of deception?
Was Mary Higgins a Reliable Witness?
Star witness Mary Higgins of Early Iowa seems to contemplate her facial expression before glancing over to her self proclaimed Best Friend, Tracey Richter.
Mary Higginss testimony helped send Tracey Richter to jail for life. So its fair to ask, was she an impartial witness? Or did her prior relationship with Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith color her sense of the truth? She worked for him during his election campaign. Smith ate at her house, dated her daughter, and Mary became a source of information. Later she told Ben Smith that Tracey had told her the second intruder wore a ski mask. But Tracey had provided a description of the second intruder. Mary said that made her wonder if Tracey was just making everything up. But who was making things up? In a police report June 21, 2011, Cross Roads Caf owner, Robyn Padgett tells a different story about Mary Higgins, one going back to shortly after the shooting. Robyn helped Mona Wehde clean out Dustins room shortly after his death. In his room they found a black notebook, which had cryptic, written in some type of coded writing. Mona turned it over to Lt. Cessford later in the week. Mona and Robyn both knew about a notebook, a black one In an interview with Sheriff McClure in June of 2011, Robyn reported telling Mary Higgins about the notebook. So now Mary Higgins knew about the notebook, not necessarily from Tracey, but from a completely different source and that this notebook also referenced Pitman.
Further, Robyn stated that she spoke often to Mary who was always trying to get Robyn to befriend Tracey Richter. According to the report, Padgett always felt that Higgins was trying to get information from Padgett. And also said Mary Higgins is the one who told her about the ski-mask. Later in the same report, McClure notes that Padgett is mentioned in an e-mail he received from Tracey in March 2005 where she mentioned the notebook that was found in Dustins bedroom. Robyn also reported that she and Mary talked so much that she had taken pages of notes from their conversations. It would be consistent with Marys personality that if she knew about a pink notebook, it would have come up in her any of her numerous conversations. But Mary never mentioned she knew anything about a pink notebook.
So what did Mary know? And what did she make up? And what did she tell Ben Smith?
Theres a question if she even told the truth on the stand. Its common knowledge that Mary Higgins worked on Ben Smiths election campaign, and that Ben openly dated Abigail, Marys daughter during the time between his swearing in January 2011 and Traceys arrest in mid-July. He admits he was at her house the night of his insight into the case, and Marys admission regarding the pink notebook. She knew about the notebook from her friend Robyn Padgett. But in court she said Tracey had told her everything. Mary had talked to her friend Robyn at great length about every aspect of the case that Robyn filled a notebook full of notes. She went to great lengths to prompt Robyn Padgett to befriend Tracey. Why did she have to do this if she and Tracey were best friends? Why did she have this insatiable thirst for information about Tracey? What was her motivation in prying into Traceys life? Well never know, but what we do know is that Mary never told the entire truth under oath. Tracey claimed she never told anyone about a pink notebook, because she wasnt aware of its existence. And Mary claimed Tracey told her about it, all along shed learned about it from Robyn Padgett.
Who had the most to gain from killing Dustin?
Ben Smiths argument for prosecuting Tracey for first degree murder rested on a couple of premises.
- Tracey was in a battle over child support for her son Burt. John Pitman wanted to cut off the $1000 a month she was receiving.
- To do this she wanted to frame John Pitman for attempted murder and to keep her plans secret she killed.
Yet, the facts remain that Michael Roberts made a secret deal with Mona Wehde, a real estate agent, to sell all of their marital properties without Traceys knowledge. He met secretly with her to discuss the deal just prior to the shooting of Dustin. Michael was planning a move away from the area, and hed bring Tracey up to speed on it later. Thats what he told Mona.
- With Tracey out of the way, he would become sole owner of Xellex and Mile2 a businesses which recently did $2 million dollars in new sales.
- With Tracey out of the way Michael would own all of their property and could move the kids where he wanted to. With Tracey out of the way Michael would be the majority shareholder of Mile2, even after he provided Ray Friedman the equity he had previously promised him.
- With Tracey out of the way he could marry another woman, which he did even before his divorce was final.
But Special Agent Vileta didnt see any connections or any reason to suspect Michael Roberts because hed made up his mind about Traceys guilt and he had no intention of backing down.
Was Justice Upheld?
The duty of a public prosecutor is to uphold justice by seeing that the law is applied fairly. The typical mindset thats attributed to attorneys is that they are out to win their case at any cost. Public defenders, on the other hand, are held to a higher standard. They have a duty to avoid conflict of interests in their relationships with witnesses. They have a duty to disclose any facts or evidence material to the case, even if it tends to exonerate the accused. Under no circumstances are they to threaten, badger, or tamper with witnesses by contaminating them with their own opinion as to the guilt of the accused. They are not to present false or misleading evidence; or to use unreliable or untruthful witnesses and snitches.
Ben Smith got Mary to testify about the pink notebook, the secret piece of evidence that no one could possibly know about. But documents prove Mary Higgins, Robyn Padgett and Mona Wehde knew about such a notebook with cryptic writing, even prior to the 2004 civil trial in which Mona Wehde sued Tracey Richter and the crime scene photos and other evidence became a part of the public record.
Smiths theory was that the only one who could know about the contents of that book was Tracey because it contained details about the relationship between her and John Pitman. Yet, Michael Roberts admitted speaking to Dustin Wehde about John Pitman and not painting a very pretty picture of Pitman Dustin was being mentored by Michael and was in and out of their house on many occasions. Michael was so enraged over Traceys struggles with her ex over their step-son that he admits in Twisted to personally wanting to kill John Pitman and another person from Illinois. What if Dustin overheard a conversation? Tracey discussed these details in the family constantly. Michael even threatened John Pitman on the phone that he had deep pockets and that he would lose the child custody fight over his step-son, Bert. In Lt. Cessfords report, the night of the break in when Tracey was in the hospital, Michael called the hospital and the Lieutenant took the call. He asked the deputy to watch out for a car with an Illinois license plate, that the man was dangerous; referring to the very men Michael said he wanted to kill from Chicago. Why would Michael make those statements if he didnt know the whole story about Tracey and Pitmans struggle over custody and child support?
But a more troubling aspect of Ben Smiths ethical standards is his relationship with Michael Roberts? After he was elected, he served as a character witness for Michael Roberts in his efforts to get full custody of his children. This is not only a conflict of interest, but Smith went one step further to assure and made sure Michael Roberts remained in the Victims Witness Protections program so that he could not be subpoenaed to testify in the Tracey Richter trial, nor be reported for the on-going child abuse of Noah and Mason Roberts.
Why Witness Protection for Roberts?
Its common knowledge that witnesses under oath in a courtroom shouldnt not lie. But whats more egregious is when the county prosecutor participates in that lie. One of the forms of prosecutorial misconduct is the presentation of false testimony or evidence. This is an absolute prohibition according to the Supreme Court: The prosecution cannot present evidence it knows is false and must immediately correct any falsity of which it is aware even if the false evidence was not intentionally submitted. Presenting false evidence to the jury harms the defendants right to a fair trial by lying to the jury about the evidence.
So how did Ben Smith commit prosecutorial misconduct? By allowing a prosecution witnesses to knowingly lie, and to make sure his testimony could not be impugned, hid Michael Roberts away in the victims witness protection program. Using this strategy Ray Friedman allegedly could tell his lies about Michael Roberts alibi the night of the shooting and not be questioned by the defenses cross examination of Roberts. Author Note: It is outside the scope of this article but based on information and belief, Part 2 will detail how Michael Roberts and key prosecution witnesses shared in several million dollars in business revenue and were helped by Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith in advance of the Tracey Richter trial.
Ray Friedman Lies to Cover for Roberts?
Shortly after the shooting, Ray and Marie had been interviewed by the police in 2001, and his testimony favored the defense. The police uncovered that Ray Friedman was paid $25,000 by Michael Roberts shortly after the shooting, supposedly for his work done for Roberts Internet security company, which eventually evolved into a company called Mile2.
It is alleged that the Friedmans knowingly lied on the witness stand as to how he recollected events leading up to being paid a fee by Roberts, compared to what he told police in interviews back in 2001. At Traceys trial Ray Friedman said he was paid the $25,000 for work done at Roberts firm, and that he no longer worked for Michael Roberts. Now he was self-employed and performed financial audits. In fact Ray Friedmans testimony was that I left and got a better paying job and its been the same since I left, He then estimated hed been on his new job for 3-4 years, which at the time of a murder trial would be in 2007.
Ray Friedman has been the Chief Executive Officer of Mile2 since 2007. So who owns Mile2? According to the records Michael Roberts founded Mile2 in 2001. The very same year of the attack. At the time Ray and Marie Friedman testified he knowingly lied claiming he was a self-employed auditor he was in fact an officer of Mile2, which makes him an employee / business partner of Michael Roberts.
Watch Raymond Friedman testimony here
Further, Michael Roberts used Mile2 in 2004 to transfer marital assets to Malaysia, hiding them from his wife, Tracey. Mile2 is also the entity which provided Michael Roberts a letter of employment and fraudulent W-2s for Roberts to purchase a home for his then fiance, and the realtor on the transaction was Janet Christenson, Ray Friedmans mother.
More alarming is that Mile2 solicits business for its Penetration Testing or Red Teaming and those government agencies: U.S. Airforce, U.S. Marines, U.S. Army and Federal Aviation Administration (see documents here) are used to solicit business recognizing, Mile2 as the best in what laymans terms would be called hacking.
Michael Roberts soliciting business by showing a letter of recommendation by the Federal Aviation Administration, to his Mile2 email email@example.com. The letter states Mile2 has hands-on-experience with attack tools daily and they claim to handle penetration and red teaming training for the red teams of the military.
Eight months prior to the murder trial both Fox News and consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report reported on a hacking code allegedly used by Michael Roberts and called his use of it criminal. I personally wrote a detailed expose that explained how Michael Roberts used this hacking code to cover for a wealthy client physician who was responsible for covering up the death of a patient.
I supplied Prosecutor Ben Smith documentation of how Michael Roberts had tampered with the jury for the murder trial via the Internet. I even provided Attorney Smith with evidence of an alleged juror who went onto the Internet, and was tampered with in the manner I detailed, and claimed they convicted Tracey Richter solely on what they read online, not the evidence presented at trial.
Within 48 hours of the time I submitted this evidence to Ben Smith; he sent all of it directly to Michael Roberts rather than investigate the allegations. Sources have confirmed that after Ben Smith relaying this information Michael Roberts created a ghost of his hard-drive and also reinstalled his operating system.
Conflict of Interests
Ben Smith had a conflict of interest with his star witness, and failed to fully disclose all aspects of that relationship to the Judge. Smith also had a conflict of interest in befriending and supporting Michael in his quest to gain full custody of his children. He did it despite knowing Michael was a child abuser according to the Iowa Childrens Protective Services finding.
Justice = Just Us
There was no presumption of innocence on the part of Special Agent Vileta. He made up his mind early on that Tracey was a con, and he ignored all of the evidence in front of him that Michael had a history of domestic and child abuse, and had already implicated himself with his failed polygraph test. Instead he focused on an argument Tracey had with John Pitman and other events in her past that in his mind made her a dishonest fraud. Vileta no doubt talked in this manner to the new county prosecutor and Ben caught the bug of biased opinion. And this rigid view of Tracey took root early on in Ben Smiths mind and it came out in his conversation with Mary Higgins. From his reaction to Marys admission she knew about a notebook, it was evident hed lost his perspective on Traceys possible innocence, and could not presume any longer that she could be innocent. And did Tracey get a fair trial when the prosecution put an alleged liar and town gossip on the stand, Mary Higgins. She lied about who she heard about the notebook from, and her lie overshadowed the eye-witness account of a frightened eleven year old. Because thats how Ben Smith impugned the testimony of a 21-year-old Bert Pitman, by taking his testimony as a frightened kid ten years before and compared it line for line, and parsing words and making him out to be a liar by saying he didnt hear what he heard when he said his mother was attacked and nearly strangled to death. The other eye witness (Noah Roberts) forced to live with his abusive father, ironically placed in witness protection along with his sister Mason with the very person they needed protection from their father. Strategically it was a brilliant move for the young prosecutor because witness protection removed the other eye-witness to the attack and made it impossible for Michael to be served. The hacking code which allows jury tampering was utilized in this trial, but how many others? Is this the very reason for the Prosecutors Office to have allowed all of this to happen? The hacking scandal continues to rock the U.K., but many of the same players are allegedly involved with Mile2 and Michael Roberts. And all this injustice has rolled down on the shoulders of Tracey Richter, and she sits in cement cell, behind bars, for the rest of her life for something she didnt do.
Authors Note: In this lucid discussion we examine significant revelations of systemic wrongdoing in Sac County and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Perhaps the culture of Iowa is different from that of other states in that denial of the truth is deeply woven into its ethos. I was ignored when I called informational / tip-lines in Febru
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/09/2012 10:01 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/update-june-1-2015-investigation-update-ben-smith-sac-county-iowa-attorney-charges-against-darren-meade-dropped-sac-county-attorney-ben-smith-dismisses-all-criminal-charges-against-darren-meade-related-to-his-posts-on-ripoff-report-sac-county-iowa-attorney-ben-smith-fails-to-identify-false-statements-fails-to-support-his-accusations-with-clarifications/sac-city-iowa-/update-june-1-2015-investigation-update-charges-against-darren-meade-droppedu-938843. 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
Click Here to read other Ripoff Reports on Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney; Charges against Darren Meade dropped! Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismisses all criminal charges against Darren Meade related to his posts on Ripoff Report. | Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith fails to identify false statements, fails to support his accusations with clarifications.
If you would like to see more Rip-off Reports on this company/individual, search here:
Advertisers above have met our
strict standards for business conduct.