No charges related to ’07 Enforcement conference

St. Paul – After reviewing a report from the state Legislative
Auditor and an internal report from the DNR, the Ramsey County
Attorney’s Office has decided not to file charges related to a
conservation officer conference held in July of 2007 in St.
Paul.

The Legislative Auditor found that nearly $300,000 in state
funds were misspent on the conference.

Col. Mike Hamm, the former DNR chief conservation officer,
retired in the wake of the DNR’s internal review. His wife, Capt.
Cathy Hamm, who supervised officers in the metro area and also was
involved in planning the conference, was fired last month; she says
she retired before that occurred.

The Legislative Auditor, in addition to pointing out the
misspent money, also found that:

€ The DNR_did not adequately authorize, define, or control its
involvement in the conference;

€ The DNR did not control fund-raising for the conference to
ensure it complied with state law and department policy;

€ The DNR did not follow state policies for some travel by its
employees.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles forwarded the report to the
Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for review and potential charges,
which included Permitting False Claims Against Government and
Theft.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, though, declined to file
felony charges relating to the conference after concluding the
expenditures didn’t constitute felony-level offenses.

Clayton Robinson, Jr., the assistant director of the office’s
Prosecution Division, wrote in a memo last week to Ramsey County
Attorney Susan Gaertner that, “The (Legislative Auditor’s) Report
and investigative materials establish that the Department’s
commissioner prohibited the expenditure of Department resources for
that private purpose.

“Nonetheless, high-level managers in the Department failed to
comply with that directive by either explicitly or implicitly
approving those expenditures. Because of that approval, none of
these expenditures can be characterized as either theft or
fraudulent. Further, all of the expenditures were made to and for
the benefit of organizations, not individuals, and are subject to
civil recovery through the Minnesota Attorney General’s
Office.”

According to the Legislative Auditor’s report, two private
groups – the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers
Association and the Minnesota Conservation Officers Association –
turned a $76,600 profit on the conference.

DNR Deputy Commissioner Laurie Martinson last month was placed
on three days of unpaid leave for “inadequate review of a special
expense authorization,” related to the conference, according to the
DNR.

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