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Bryan Bemboom

Other Minnesota exonerations
On April 5, 2016, Minnesota State Police pulled over 37-year-old Bryan Bemboom because the vehicle’s registration had expired. Both Bemboom and his girlfriend, Allison Ripka, were taken into custody and taken to the Pine County Jail. During a search of Ripka, who had been riding in the passenger seat, police discovered two packages of methamphetamine in her underwear.

Bemboom and Ripka were both charged with possession of methamphetamine. Bemboom was also charged with driving without a valid driver’s license.

Bemboom pled guilty to the driving without a license violation, and, in June 2016, he went to trial on the drug charges in Pine County District Court. The prosecution argued that the jury could infer that before the officer got to the car, Bemboom handed the drugs to Ripka or that, even if Ripka had the drugs all along, that Bemboom had constructive possession because he was driving the car.

A state trooper testified that after determining that the car’s registration had expired, he turned on his flashing lights. The trooper said that Bemboom pulled into the Grand Casino and stopped in a hotel parking lot.

The trooper said he placed Bemboom in the back seat of the police squad car and returned to Bemboom’s vehicle to search it. The trooper said he found a digital scale with white powder residue on the driver’s seat; one-half of a Viagra pill on the passenger seat; and an empty, unlabeled prescription pill bottle with the cap removed on the floor of the back of the car, near the center console.

The trooper said he ordered Ripka to remain in the front seat of the squad car because she provided false identification. But as the trooper searched the car a second time, Ripka opened the front passenger door of the squad car and fled on foot. The trooper chased her and arrested Ripka behind the casino approximately six minutes later.

While Bemboom and Ripka were both in the back of the squad car, a police dashboard video camera was recording them. Nine excerpts were played for the jury. In one, Bemboom, when he was by himself, said, “I’m so [obscenity].”

In another excerpt, recorded after Ripka was placed in the police car, Bemboom asked, “Where’s the stuff? Where’s the shit?”

Ripka replied, “In my crotch.”

At the jail, when Ripka was searched, two packages of methamphetamine weighing 6.4 grams fell to the floor when she removed her underwear.

A subsequent inventory search of the car revealed a zippered shaving kit that contained, among other things, multiple empty baggies, another digital scale, a methamphetamine pipe, and multiple prescription pill bottles with Bemboom’s name on the labels. In the trunk of the car, police found a large marijuana bong and a prosthetic device that a man could use to provide a falsified urine sample.

During closing argument, the prosecutor acknowledged the possibility “that Ms. Ripka is the sole possessor of these drugs,” but argued that she did not act independently and that she was helping Bemboom by hiding his methamphetamine.

On June 15, 2016, a jury convicted him of possession of methamphetamine. Bemboom was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. In October 2016, Ripka also was convicted of possession of methamphetamine. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

In December 2017, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed Bemboom’s conviction. The court ruled there was insufficient evidence to infer that Bemboom had the drugs in his hands or that he had constructive possession of the drugs.

“We conclude that the state’s circumstantial evidence is insufficient to support Bemboom’s conviction because it allows for multiple reasonable inferences, including the reasonable inference that Bemboom’s passenger solely possessed the methamphetamine that was found in her underwear,” the court ruled.

On March 5, 2018, Bemboom was released from prison after a judge dismissed the case in Pine County District Court.

Bemboom’s attorney, Jordan Kushner, subsequently filed a petition on Bemboom’s behalf seeking compensation from the state of Minnesota. On April 7, 2021, after Bemboom was declared innocent, the Minnesota Joint House/Senate Subcommittee on Claims voted to award Bemboom $165,103 in compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/8/2022
Last Updated: 7/8/2022
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2016
Sentence:3 years and 8 months
Age at the date of reported crime:37
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No