While investigating unauthorized purchases made by the Alexandria Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension executed a search warrant at the home of former Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels.
During the April 5 search, BCA agent Nicholas Riba seized three items – an alarm clock on a nightstand valued at $49.99, a $5.99 Casio two-way power calculator on a desk, and an Apple iPhone in an office, according to court documents.
About 20 other items listed in the search warrant were not found and remain unaccounted for, including batteries, surveillance cameras, computers, software, flash drives, chargers, routers, hard drives, a wi-fi system, a laminator, printers, an Apple TV, and a rifle scope with related eyepieces.
Combined, the purchases amount to more than $10,000, including the scope purchase of nearly $5,000.
The court listed three reasons for issuing the search warrant:
The property listed was stolen or embezzled.
The possession of that property constitutes a crime.
The property listed constitutes evidence which tends to show a crime has been committed or tends to show that a particular person has committed a crime.
The search warrant documents contain new information about the BCA’s investigation, which is still active.
Sara Stadtherr, communications coordinator for the city of Alexandria issued a news release on May 5, regarding the BCA investigation. The news release did not name Wyffels and he has not been charged.
The Echo Press has contacted Wyffels for comment on the case but he has not yet responded.
Here is how the investigation unfolded, according to court documents:
On December 15, 2020, the BCA met with the current Alexandria Police Chief Scott Kent who told an agent that some purchases made by Wyffels, who retired last September, couldn’t be found.
The purchases ranged from a high-value spotting scope and computers to everyday items such as gasoline and batteries.
Kent provided the BCA with a three-ring binder containing copies of receipts from the purchases.
Later, on March 10, 2021, Kent met with the BCA agent again and said he and other police personnel had checked everywhere within the department, twice, and were unable to find any of the purchased items.
Kent highlighted two unusual fuel purchases of $54.89 and $51 from the Holiday Stationstore that were made using Wyffels’ city-issued credit card.
Other suspicious purchases, Kent told the BCA, occurred on Wyffels’ credit card on Christmas Eve in 2018 and again in 2019 and included printer ink, a dimming smart light bulb, four packs of AAA and AA batteries. Also on Dec. 26, 2019, four 24-packs of AA batteries and a pack of four 9-volt batteries were purchased.
Kent said the purchases were unusual as Wyffels was not normally responsible for purchasing office supplies.
The BCA contacted former Mayor Sara Carlson and she said that a city credit card was issued to Wyffels with the understanding that it was for city business only.
In its news release, the city said the questionable purchases were made by a former employee.
“City officials have no reason to believe this is an ongoing problem because the transactions in question are in the past and are not associated with a current employee, vendor, or other person or entity that has a continuing relationship with the city,” the news release stated.
To preserve the integrity of this active and ongoing BCA investigation, the city cannot comment on it further at this time, Stadtherr said.
The Echo Press contacted the BCA to obtain more information and received this response from Bruce Gordon, director of communications: "The BCA is prohibited by law from discussing an open and active investigation."