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Geoff Greenwood, Communications Director
515-281-6699, geoff.greenwood@iowa.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 6, 2011

Miller Statement on Wheeler Verdict



(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller expressed gratitude to a Polk County jury, following Tuesday’s split verdict in former Iowa Film Office Director Thomas Wheeler’s criminal trial.

The jury convicted Wheeler of one count of Felonious Misconduct in Office, for falsifying one or more public records, or delivering one or more falsified writings with knowledge that it was false, to become a public record.  The charge is connected to the film projects of Polynation Pictures.

“I know this was a complicated case involving volumes of documents, and I appreciate all the time, effort and dedication by the jury to consider all the evidence and come up with a decision,” Miller said.  “I respect the jury’s decision.”

“Fraud in state government, whether perpetrated by those outside of state government, or enabled by those within state government, cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Deputy Attorney General Thomas H. Miller (no relation to Attorney General Thomas J. Miller), who prosecuted the case.  Assistant Attorney General Robert Sand also prosecuted the case.

Deputy Attorney General Miller also expressed appreciation for the jury’s work.  “The Attorney General and I are grateful to the members of the Polk County jury for their service on this panel,” said Deputy Attorney General Miller.  “This case involved unusual but highly important issues.  We’re happy that the evidence has been provided to the public in open court, and that this decision of importance to the people of Iowa was decided by a jury of Iowans.” 

Attorney General Miller also expressed his appreciation to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and particularly to Special Agent Donald Schnitker, for assistance in the investigation of this and other Iowa Film Office-related criminal cases.  Miller also expressed gratitude to the Iowa State Auditor’s Office.


Background Information:

The case involved the following nine criminal charges against Wheeler, 42, of Indianola:

Ct. 1     Felonious Misconduct in Office - 721.1(2), 721.1(3); Class D Felony, 5 yrs. maximum
Ct. 2     Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree – 15A.3; Class C Felony
Ct. 3     Felonious Misconduct in Office - 721.1(2), 721.1(3); Class D Felony
Ct. 4     Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree – 15A.3; Class C Felony
Ct. 5     Felonious Misconduct in Office - 721.1(2), 721.1(3); Class D Felony
Ct. 6     Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree – 15A.3; Class C Felony
Ct. 7     Felonious Misconduct in Office - 721.1(2), 721.1(3); Class D Felony
Ct. 8     Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree – 15A.3; Class C Felony
Ct. 9     Conspiracy – 706.1, 714.1(1); Class D Felony

Remaining Iowa Film Office criminal cases:

Dennis Brouse, 60, of Plattsmouth, Nebraska, owner of Changing Horses Productions, is charged with Ongoing Criminal Conduct (Class B felony), Theft in the First Degree (Class C felony), and Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree (Class C felony).  Brouse, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled for trial on March 5, 2012 in Polk County District Court.

Chad Witter, 38, of Bettendorf, a tax credit broker, is charged with Ongoing Criminal Conduct (Class B felony), two counts of Theft in the First Degree (Class C felony), and two counts of Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree (Class C felony).  Witter, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled for trial on April 16, 2012 in Polk County District Court.

Harel Goldstein (A/K/A Harel Gold, A/K/A Kevin Ward), 50, of Calabasas, California, a movie distributor and producer of the film “Underground,” has been charged with Fraudulent Practice in the First Degree (Class C felony), Forgery (Class D felony), and Conspiracy (Class D felony).  Goldstein has not made a court appearance in Iowa and his trial date has not been set.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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