This is my fifth term but my pledge remains the same — to uphold the values and integrity of this office. As your county attorney, my goal is to bring justice to crime victims and protect the 1.2 million citizens of Hennepin County.

There's much work to do and with your help and support, we'll get the job done. We're taking a strong stand against juvenile crime, educational neglect and truancy, gang violence, identity theft, livability crimes, gun violence and crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults.

Join us in protecting the safety of our community by reporting crimes and working with law enforcement. Our office offers information on a host of topics from crime prevention and victim witness assistance to tax information.

I'm very excited to serve the citizens of Hennepin County.

We're here to work for your interests.

Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney

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Community justice update

Mike Freeman's February 2015 update 

On Jan. 6, I was humbled to take the oath of office for another four-year term as Hennepin County Attorney. I am excited to face the challenges of this fine office and look forward to implementing more innovative ways to prevent crime and deal with lawbreakers.  Still, you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been. I asked our managers to review the work of the last four years and present some of the highlights.  Here they are:

Dealing with Juveniles

It’s no revelation that most adult criminals get their start as juveniles. So we use every tool to keep our young people out of the criminal justice system.
• Our office believes that for relatively minor crimes, teenagers should be given a chance at a diversion program. If successful, they will have no record and move forward on the road to responsible adulthood. But we commissioned a study by the Council on Crime & Justice and they found flaws in the diversion programs that negatively impacted youth of color.  Now we made changes and the diversion program is more effective for all.
• The Juvenile Prosecution and Child Protection Divisions worked together in creating Hennepin County’s Crossover Youth Project. When police bring a case for juvenile charges, the name is checked to see if the juvenile was in the child protection system.  If so, a team of people work with the youth to get his or her life back on course. A special Crossover calendar was started to track their progress.
• The division has worked to implement the state’s new Safe Harbor law. Juvenile prostitutes are not prosecuted but treated as victims and paired with social services to get them out of the sex trade. The hope is they will then cooperate in prosecuting their pimps.

Two cases put the Child Protection Division in the spotlight. After eight months in a facility where he received special attention, the nine-year-old boy who stowed away on an airline flight to Las Vegas was successfully reunited with his parents. Division lawyers guided the case through the court.  We can also reveal that it was our county social workers and child protection lawyers who successfully navigated the Adrian Peterson child abuse situation. The Vikings running back beat his four-year-old son in Peterson’s Texas home, but the injuries were reported by the child’s mother living here. Hennepin County social workers investigated and they and our lawyers, turned over the information to Texas authorities for criminal charges. We filed petitions here to protect the child and the good news, for both father and son, is that real progress is being made.

Of course, some of our juveniles commit horrible crimes and we do not hesitate to bring the full force of our top prosecutors against them. When Mahdi Ali killed three people in a Seward Neighborhood grocery store, we obtained a conviction and he was sentenced to life. The police and us worked hard to figure out who killed 13-year-old Rayjon Gomez while biking near his home and we obtained a conviction of Kemen Taylor and a long prison term.

Guns, sex crimes and cold cases

Gun violence is a scourge of several Minneapolis neighborhoods and a problem throughout the county. One way to put a dent in the carnage is to aggressively prosecute violent felons who are caught with a gun. In an innovative partnership, one of our senior managing attorneys coordinates serious gun cases with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Together, they determine which jurisdiction can deliver the longest sentence on the gun charge. Since July 2010, more than 50 cases have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That partnership helped in charging the man who provided Ray Kmetz with the gun he used to shoot two New Hope policemen. The U.S. Attorney charged it because federal law on straw buyers is stronger than Minnesota law.

Serious and repeat sex offenders pose a real threat.  Sometimes, we seek a grand jury indictment so we can obtain a life sentence. Other times, we ask a jury to find there were aggravating circumstances allowing for long sentences. Recently, we successfully prosecuted Corey Gordon for befriending a woman with a brain disease that put her emotional and reasoning abilities at a fourth-grade level. Then he pretended to be her personal care attendant and had sex with her at a treatment center. The jury found those aggravating circumstances and Gordon received a life sentence not eligible for parole for 30 years.

Both our office and Minneapolis police received federal grants to use DNA evidence to solve cold cases. The result: 16 rape and four homicide cases, one from 1980, resolved since 2011.

White collar crimes and protecting workers

We are proud of our active white collar crimes unit. It pursued mortgage fraud cases when the housing bubble collapsed in 2008. We convicted more than 60 defendants including Joseph Gustafson Sr. and his son Jr. and destroyed their North Minneapolis gang, which committed mortgage fraud, arson, assault and weapon offenses. Now we have turned our focus to the growing problem of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.  Among the successful prosecutions was a Maple Grove City Council Member who exploited her aged father.

This office was the first to prosecute a prevailing wage case. A road construction company owner did not pay the prevailing wage, as he bid it, and kept the money for himself. We charged a second case against two owners of an electrical contracting business who shorted electricians.

Civil Innovations

 You would expect us to be innovative and we have been.
• The Child Support Division went paperless first. All filings and rulings are issued electronically and our attorneys go to court with computers. Other divisions will follow.
• We rolled out ProCase, which allows police to submit their investigation reports to our prosecutors via computers. Our prosecutors can then issue criminal complaints, have the investigator and judge sign it, all electronically. It saves significant time and money because suburban officers no longer have to drive to the courthouse.
• Child Support practices “Best Orders.” Too often, a low-income parent was required to pay child support in an amount that left the parent broke and he or she would simply give up. The division now encourages the judge to set the payment at a lower level, helping the child and keeping the parent involved with their child.

The Civil Division represents Hennepin County agencies and when they have an innovative idea, the civil attorneys negotiate the terms to make it happen. They engineered the merger of a doctors’ organization with the Hennepin County Medical Center, convinced the Minnesota Public Utilities commission to order Xcel to bury its transmission line rather than run it above the Midtown Greenway. They also won a $690,000 civil suit against BestCare for not providing the care for which the county was paying them.

These are a few of our successes from the last four years and we face many more challenges in the next four.  I pledge our best effort to help the community be safer and for County Government to receive the creative civil representation you and it deserves. 

Please stay in touch.

Hennepin County Attorney

Meet the County Attorney

Michael O. Freeman is the elected Hennepin County Attorney. Mike has served as the Hennepin County Attorney for 14 years 1991 – 1999 and again since 2007. As the County Attorney, Mike serves as the chief executive of Minnesota’s largest public law office.

Mike received a B.A. from Rutgers University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. Mike was elected to the Minnesota State Senate and served from 1983 to 1991. He was also the Democratic Farmer Labor-endorsed candidate for Governor of Minnesota in 1998. He also teaches graduate students at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Mike is married, the father of five children and two grandchildren, and lives in South Minneapolis.

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