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Tuesday, October 30, 2012  RssIcon

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday charges against 10 people as part of a scheme to bribe and intimidate witnesses to recant their testimony in a murder trial that sent three men to prison for life.
 
The main defendant is Lamonte Rydell Martin, 24, who was charged with 12 counts of bribery, tampering with a witness and accomplice after the fact. Martin was the mastermind of the operation to get several witnesses to sign affidavits claiming that they lied when they testified against Martin, Cornelius Jackson and Jonard McDaniel for gunning down Christopher Lynch in north Minneapolis in 2006.

Martin’s mother, Heidi Marie Mastin, 47, who was arrested over the weekend, will be charged with accomplice after the fact and bribery for helping to funnel money into the prison account of one of the targeted witnesses. The money came through a money order in the name of a vulnerable adult who received home care from the company where Mastin worked. The man had no connection to the witness nor anyone else in prison.

Girlfriends of some of the men were used to wire the money to the witnesses’ prison accounts or to set up three-way telephone calls between Martin and others to plan their actions, according to the criminal complaint.

Mike Freeman announces witness tampering chargesThe charges culminated an intense 10-month investigation by Minneapolis police and Minnesota Department of Corrections, but the investigation totaled two years from the time corrections officials first became suspicious that something unusual was going on.

“It’s outrageous enough that they committed the murder and other crimes in the first place,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Now they are using a mother, their girlfriends and other gang members in prisons around the state to bribe and intimidate the men who testified against them. Congratulations to investigators on an excellent investigation. We are going to come down hard on these defendants for trying to corrupt the system and for threatening innocent family members.”

Martin, who is serving a life sentence and is a member of the 1 9 Dipset gang (pronounced one nine), had his earlier appeal denied by the Minnesota Supreme Court in October 2009. He needed the recantations as new evidence for his current appeal, which the Minnesota Supreme Court currently has under advisement. If Martin were successful in his appeal, it would help Jackson and McDaniel, too.

"The Department of Correction's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is in a unique position to help solve crimes in our communities from inside our prison walls,” Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy said. “This unit is made up highly trained experts, it vigorously investigates illegal offender activity and especially that of gangs. Cross jurisdictional cooperation with other agencies is essential. OSI exchanges intelligence information with law enforcement to solve these types of crimes and help keep the public safe."

The criminal complaint revealed how serious the threats were against the witnesses, who also were serving time.  One of the men, identified only as Witness A, told investigators he was afraid that he would be killed by a 1 9 Dipset gang member in prison, or would have to kill one of them in self-defense. In one fight, his neck was cut, he told investigators.

Witness A’s brother, identified as Witness 1, told investigators that he delayed signing the affidavit sent to him by Martin, but after several months gang members told him that if he didn’t sign his brother would be stabbed and Witness 1’s  two young children would be killed. He signed the affidavit.

Witness 2 told investigators that when he was transferred from the prison in Faribault to the Stillwater Prison he was attacked by 1 9 gang members, including Christopher Dineaa Bahtuoh, 23, and told they would attack him every day until he put his name on the affidavit. He signed the affidavit. Bahtuoh, who is in prison for a 2010 Hennepin County murder, was charged with accomplice after the fact-association with criminal gang, accomplice after the fact, first-degree tampering-association with criminal gang and first-degree tampering.

“This case presented chilling facts,” said Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Rob Allen. “Anyone who is concerned with justice should be frightened with the steps these people took.”

Watch the press conference



 Others charged are

  • Maurice Lovell Anderson, 32, Stillwater Prison, accomplice after the fact and first-degree tampering;
  • Ramondo Rondell Bumpus, 22, address unknown, accomplice after the fact-association with criminal gang, accomplice after the fact, first-degree tampering-association with a criminal gang, first-degree tampering;
  • Hakeem Malik Dontae Flax, 26, Minneapolis, accomplice after the fact-association with criminal gang, accomplice after the fact, first-degree tampering-association with a criminal gang, first-degree tampering;
  • Dionte Marsa Hubbard, 25, Stillwater Prison, accomplice after the fact-association with criminal gang, accomplice after the fact, first-degree tampering-association with a criminal gang, first-degree tampering;
  • Fredrick Kemond Jackson, 27, Oak Park Heights Prison, accomplice after the fact, bribery;
  • Jesse Lewis Walker, 24, Crystal, accomplice after the fact and bribery;
  • Domonick Deshay Wright, 24, Moose Lake Prison, accomplice after the fact-association with criminal gang, accomplice after the fact, first-degree tampering-association with a criminal gang, first-degree tampering.

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