Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Tim Franklin
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Former sheriff candidate sues Pine County

 

November 29, 2018



A former Pine County Sheriff candidate and former sheriff’s department employee has filed a federal lawsuit against the county.

Jared Rosati and his wife Wendy filed the suit last week in federal court claiming his civil rights were violated because of an investigation the county conducted on him for a land sale regarding an elderly person, and that this investigation prevented him from running for sheriff.

Rosati is bringing the action against Pine County, Pine County Health and Human Services (PCHHS) Director Rebecca Foss, the Pine County Sheriff's Office, Jane Doe (the reporter) and Sheriff Jeff Nelson.

The suit was originally filed in district court in October, but was since removed, and is now filed in federal court. Several judges asked to be recused from the case since the county is being sued.

The county has hired outside counsel, Jessica Schwie, an attorney with Kennedy & Graven located in Minneapolis, to defend it in court. The Rosatis’ counsel is Matthew Anderson of Anderson Law Group PLLC based in Saint Paul.

The suit alleges that Pine County officials used a civil investigation to ruin the reputation of him and his wife, Wendy Rosati, just months before the 2018 elections.

The suit comes after an investigation was performed by the county based on the Rosatis purchasing a neighbor’s home because she was told that she was unable to physically take care of it. The land was sold in January of 2017.

Rosati purchased the property for $233,000, which the suit states is the appraised value of the property, and the sale was done on a contract for deed. There was also a transfer on death deed recorded, which would transfer title of the property to the Rosatis after the neighbor's death. Rosati claims he tried to inform the woman's social worker about this sale to keep her informed, but the social worker never called him back.

Around $3,800 of this sale was to be hand paid, the suit states, which would acknowledge the rough cost, labor and expenses of an AC unit that Rosati said he installed for his neighbor without payment with the understanding that when he bought the property, this amount would be taken off.

Rosati also said he paid the first three months of payments to the homeowner with either cash or Visa gift cards, per the woman's request.

An investigation of Rosati started after the land sale was investigated as maltreatment of a vulnerable adult. Rosati claims PCHHS made an erroneous finding weeks before the filing period for sheriff. The civil action notes that Rosati ran for sheriff in 1998, 2014 and 2016. The suit also notes that Rosati previously sued the county in 2000 for wrongful termination, which went to arbitration.

Files on the case eventually went to Chisago County for review because of conflict of interest, court records stated. In April of 2018, Rosati said the Chisago County Attorney's Office declined to press charges, and he was exonerated.

Rosati claims PCHHS hid facts of the case from him in 18 instances. He is asking $10,000 on each of these counts in punitive damages and compensation which exceeds $50,000 for each of these cases, plus costs and attorney fees for the alleged falsified reports. He is also suing for damages for violation of due process, defamation, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution.

The suit also alleges that after Rosati worked closely with Robin Cole who won the sheriff's race in 2010, Cole wanted Rosati to be his chief deputy, and the county board told Cole that they would never vote him into that position.

Rosati claims the investigation prevented him from running for sheriff’s office this year, "at a time when political outsiders are winning elections", and the county did not rescind its determination against Rosati until after the June 5 date deadline to file for sheriff’s office. The suit also states that on May 23, 2018, Rosati requested data of which he is the subject of from PCHHS and that the data containing the investigator’s notes, which was heavily redacted, wasn’t turned over until June 5. In 2014, Rosati won in the primaries and ran against Nelson, losing with 32.46 percent of the county’s votes.

Schwie, the attorney for Pine County, in her responses, said the county and defendants generally deny each and every thing alleged in the complaint against them.

The response said the county did not do anything that kept Rosati from running for sheriff during this investigation, either by filing for office or running as a write-in candidate.

Schwie also said that Rosati was employed by the county until he was terminated, "following an investigation, from his duties as a licensed police officer for reasons including an incident of misconduct and dishonesty in 2000, as well as plaintiff Jared Rosati's prior work and disciplinary history which included additional incidents of dishonesty in 1999 and 1996." The attorney also alleges that the union did not grieve the determination stating "there would not be a likelihood of success in arbitration."

The response from the county’s attorney also noted that "state law imposes upon Pine County a duty to investigate allegations of vulnerable adult maltreatment" and there was sufficient evidence "to allow for a reasonable suspicion and belief that plaintiffs may have engaged in maltreatment of a vulnerable adult so as to request an investigation."

The county also further alleges that the woman expressed displeasure of the land sale taking place, and Foss communicated with those necessary and appropriate in the investigation.

The woman's conservator, Professional Fiduciary, Inc., submitted a petition to rescind the land sale based on "deception" resulting in "financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult" the county noted, and after this petition, the plaintiffs entered into a settlement agreement "that effectively resulted in a rescission of the prior land sale contract and its reformation to new terms subsequently approved."

Pine County Administrator David Minke said the board has not gone into closed session about the lawsuit from Rosati, and they typically do this when there is an active settlement. He said there would be no further comment on the case.

"The complaint speaks for itself. It was based on the review of over 3,000 documents and several hours of audio recordings," said Anderson, Rosati's attorney. "The tone and substance of the county’s answer only verifies what the Rosatis were put through. Eventually, Jared and Wendy were both cleared of any wrongdoing. But by then, the damage had been done."

Along with the filed suit against Pine County, Rosati has threatened legal action in Mille Lacs County in a separate matter. In March of 2018, the Mille Lacs County Board went into closed session to discuss "litigation strategy on a possible lawsuit that may be filed against the county," according to a story in the Mille Lacs Messenger.

 

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