Bloomington police officer accused of failing to interview fraud victims

A Bloomington police officer is on administrative leave after being charged with a gross misdemeanor, accused of misconduct involving a credit card fraud investigation.

Donald Rix, 51, was charged March 27 with one count of misconduct of a public officer or employee, following an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and a review of the investigation by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

The BCA investigation began in December when the Bloomington Police Department contacted the agency for assistance with its internal investigation. Rix, a 14-year member of the police department, had been investigating allegations of credit card fraud. Police reports were submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges in October. The county attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case in early November, advising Rix to resubmit the case with additional information, according to the criminal complaint.

The county attorney’s office requested that the victims in the case be identified, contacted and interviewed, the complaint noted.

Rix followed up the request by submitting a supplemental report to the police department’s clerical staff, which was submitted to the county attorney’s office. The report stated that Rix obtained account holder information and spoke to nine victims in the case, who all said that they have their credit cards in their possession, they had not given anyone permission to use the cards and they had no knowledge of the suspect, the complaint explained.

The county attorney’s office reviewed the supplemental report and filed a felony-level complaint against the suspect on Nov. 14. The county attorney’s office subsequently learned that at least two of the victims had not been contacted by Rix. The victims said that they had not been contacted by Rix or anyone from the police department regarding their credit cards. Rix’s phone records were reviewed, and there was no evidence Rix called the known phone numbers of the two victims, according to the complaint.

All charges in the credit card investigation have since been dismissed, according to Bloomington Deputy Chief Mike Hartley.

“The allegations against Officer Rix are in conflict with the standards and ethics of the Bloomington Police Department,” Police Chief Jeff Potts said in a statement following the charges against Rix. “We take this matter very seriously and took immediate action to ensure the matter was properly investigated by the BCA.”

The attorney representing Rix said he was surprised by the charges and wonders why the matter wasn’t rectified by a phone call to Rix regarding the two victims.

Peter Wold, an attorney with the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Legal Defense Fund who is representing Rix, characterized the incident as an oversight by Rix regarding two of the nine victims in the case. The case was one of several similar cases that Rix had been investigating, and said that any failure to contact a victim in the case was not intentional. Beyond that, the case was built upon comprehensive investigation by Rix. “If there was a mistake, it wasn’t material,” Wold said.

Wold questions why the discrepancy regarding two victims didn’t warrant a follow-up phone call from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. “Give the guy a phone call if there’s a problem,” Wold said. “I don’t get it.

“I’m a little appalled by it,” he added.

Rix has been on administrative leave since December. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.