MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Eden Prairie Detective Travis Serafin received high honors over the years. He spent time working SWAT, emergency response and broke many high-profile drug cases. Now, his alleged misconduct on a September 2017 drug case is discrediting anything he’s since touched.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office has already or is in the process of dismissing at least 32 cases in which Serafin was involved.
“While executing a search warrant officers found a large amount of heroin and some fentanyl in the house and a much smaller amount of drugs in a vehicle,” said David Brown, Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney.
Judge Jay Quam’s signed warrant listed only the house. In preparing their case, prosecutors asked for the warrant covering the evidence seized in the vehicle. One week later, Serafin gave prosecutors a second warrant.
Defendant Timothy Holmes would later plead guilty to drug crimes and third-degree murder in the death of someone he sold the heroin.
“However, the judge who heard Detective Serafin testify was concerned about the testimony,” Brown said.
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Based on those suspicions, Eden Prairie police began to investigate the search warrant and Serafin’s work on the case. They’d soon learn the second search warrant was forged and that Serafin had apparently doctored the original to make it appear it was broader than Judge Quam had authorized.
“Detective Serafin’s behavior here was wrong and inexcusable,” Brown said. “It’s also baffling to us, because the legal search of the home in the case that led to it provided more than enough evidence for our case. If he had been honest, we simply would have agreed that the drugs found in the car wouldn’t be used.”
The damage has caused dismissals of dozens of Serafin’s cases. More than 30 cases have been dismissed or are in the process of being dismissed because Serafin was a critical witness in those cases. In addition, there are another 11 cases where Serafin was a peripheral witness and the defense lawyers have been contacted.
Three of the cases involve men who are already in prison, including Holmes. The other two are identified as Torrance Gray and Sean Cole.
While the city considers his possible termination, Eden Prairie police chief Greg Weber says the city “holds officers to extremely high ethical standards.”
Weber added that officers are given “time for due process if their actions are called into question.”
Detective Serafin had been with Eden Prairie since 2000. In 2011 he was selected as the department’s Officer of the Year.
Criminal charges are possible against Serafin. Due to conflicts, the McLeod County Attorney will undertake that investigation.