MADISON, Wis. (CN) – A Madison detective digging into the finances of an alleged brothel trampled the Fourth Amendment, an accountant says in Federal Court.
Christina Mandeville filed the complaint Tuesday with the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, claiming that Detective Maya Krajcinovic unlawfully searched and seized their property while executing a search warrant for records on a downtown bathhouse.
“Certain documents are still missing and have never been recovered,” the complaint states.
The Rising Sun and its owner, Charles Prindeville, had retained a different accountant eight years prior to the 2011 search, the complaint states.
Mandeville says the search went down after she unwittingly let Krajcinovic into her home along with two others who identified themselves as employees of the state Department of Revenue.
After checking on a grandchild sleeping upstairs, Mandeville says she faced “questions centered on how much Ms. Mandeville knew about what ‘really went on’ at the Rising Sun,” the complaint states.
Local news outlets report the bathhouse had recently come under investigation for allegations of tax fraud and prostitution, with several employees reporting their continued employment was contingent upon having sex with clients.
When Mandeville answered the agents’ questions without giving specific details, Krajcinovic became agitated, saying she “‘must know’ what the Rising Sun employees did to earn the money they were paid,” according to the complaint.
Mandeville says she attempted to call her attorney and daughter from upstairs, but Krajcinovic “yanked” the phone from her hand, finally identifying herself as a police detective and demanding Mandeville come to the station, the complaint states.
Krajcinovic says she was hauled to the station but not allowed to leave or call her attorney while Krajcinovic obtained a search warrant.
“Detective Krajcinovic told Ms. Mandeville that she was ‘not in any trouble,’ but ‘if you don’t help me with the Rising Sun, I’m gonna get a search warrant and trash your house,'” the complaint states.
Mandeville allegedly returned home that evening to see that Krajcinovic had made good on her promise.
“Every room in the house showed signs of having been searched,” the complaint states.
The contents of Mandeville’s bedroom and the baby’s room were strewn about, furniture was broken and files were scattered on the floor, according to the complaint.
“Ms. Mandeville’s office was filled with clothes that had been upstairs,” it continues. “A storage bin in garage had held wrapped Christmas presents in it, and approximately 15 presents, out of 30 or 40, had been torn open.”
Some items were not returned for weeks, others for months, including office equipment and files, Mandeville says.
“Parts of the WACDL file were missing and have never been returned to this day,” the complaint states, abbreviating the co-plaintiff organization’s name.
Peter McKeever, the executive director of that group, said carelessness on the part of the police was the only reason their records were seized.
“We are a professional organization of lawyers from around the state,” McKeever said. “Absolutely nothing to do with the Rising Sun. Zip, zero, less than that.”
Through their attorney Jeff Olson, Mandeville and the WACDL are seeking damages for the unlawful search and seizure of their property.
That team’s trial consultant, Sarah Crandall, said they did not know which of WACDL’s files were confiscated, only that more was taken than has been returned.
“All we know is that Ms. Mandeville’s rights were violated, and those of some of her clients,” Crandall said.
While she declined to speculate as to whether other clients will be joining as plaintiffs, she said she expects to add the officers who executed the warrant once they discover their identities.
Madison City Attorney Michael May said the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit, but “intends to vigorously defend the actions of the officer in the case.”
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