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Police sergeant accused of fabrication back at work

ST. PAUL -- A St. Paul police sergeant was back at work Wednesday and an internal affairs investigation is on hold a week after a federal appeals court slammed her handling of a major sex-trafficking case that was prosecuted in Tennessee.

ST. PAUL -- A St. Paul police sergeant was back at work Wednesday and an internal affairs investigation is on hold a week after a federal appeals court slammed her handling of a major sex-trafficking case that was prosecuted in Tennessee.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals underscored the district court’s findings that the lead investigator, St. Paul police Sgt. Heather Weyker, “likely exaggerated or fabricated important aspects” of an alleged victim’s story, that she lied to a grand jury and later during a detention hearing, according to the finding filed on March 2.

The St. Paul Police Department said it began an internal investigation March 3. Weyker was placed on paid administrative leave.

Weyker returned to work Wednesday in a noninvestigative capacity, said Steve Linders, a police spokesman. Weyker, a St. Paul officer since 1997, had most recently been an investigator in the juvenile unit and is now assigned to research and development, Linders said.

The internal affairs investigation is pending, Linders said.

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“We’re waiting for more information from federal agencies,” he said. “We are waiting to see what other agencies are going to do, specifically the agencies that play a lead role in the case.”

Weyker was part of an investigative group involving more than one federal agency. So far, none of the agencies has claimed a supervisory role.

A spokesman for the FBI’s Minneapolis division said he could not comment on whether there is or will be an investigation.

“I can tell you there have been communications between various agencies, but I’m not at liberty at this point to divulge what is going to be the course of action with respect to this matter,” FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Wednesday. “I’m not at liberty to discuss what will or won’t happen.”

A spokesman for the FBI’s Memphis office said there is no investigation there into the officer, who was deputized as a federal task force member specifically for the trafficking case she was working on.

And the U.S. attorney’s office in Nashville also said no investigation is underway, though the case is being reviewed.

“We made the call yesterday that the best decision is to dismiss the case, which we have done,” said David Boling, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office there. “There continues to be a review of the case for a number of different reasons. We want to look and figure out at how the court came to that conclusion as well. I’m not going to say there’s an investigation. Obviously, we know the St. Paul Police Department has an investigation underway and we will provide anything we can to them.”

The case was filed in 2010 against 30 people and alleged a multistate sex-trafficking ring involving Somali gangs and underage girls, stretching from the Twin Cities to Nashville. The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota rejected the case, but federal prosecutors in Nashville picked it up.

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A jury acquitted six defendants, and the trial judge acquitted three others convicted by the jury of some charges. Federal prosecutors appealed after the trial judge set aside the convictions.

The federal appeals court on March 2 upheld those acquittals, blasted the handling of the case and called into question the credibility of the alleged victims.

An attorney for the St. Paul police union said Wednesday that he could confirm Weyker was no longer on leave from the department but had no additional information.

Related Topics: CRIME
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