After spending sixteen days in jail on a $10,000 bond (reduced from $100,000), Iowa attorney Raymond Tinnian of Kalona has been vindicated. He was acquitted of all charges against him and is now set to receive $285,000 in a lawsuit he filed claiming he was framed by one or two men he had implicated for crimes. The jail time stemmed from allegedly threatening a juror who convicted Tinnian of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in 2014 even though he said he acted in self-defense. He was also convicted of criminal mischief tied to the vandalism of property and witness tampering in the same case.
Tinnian stated after the verdict was read in the 2014 case, his tires were slashed and he received a note reading, “I will get your family next”. The home of another witness in the case was spray-painted with a note reading, “Recant your lies” and the garage of a juror was spray-painted with the words “justice” and “guilty”. She also received a note reading, “No cops or you won’t live to see 70.” Tinnian’s own car was spray-painted with obscenities, frivolous lawsuits were filed against him and letters were mailed to area residents that included lies about the man.
Tinnian said police officers and prosecutors in Coralville ignored blatant evidence about men who had harassed him in the past and they failed to tell a judge that cell phone evidence showed he wasn’t even in the area the vandalism occurred. Tinnian had claimed early on he was likely being framed by his arch nemesis, Thomas Harbit.
During Tinnian’s trial, Harbit had written a strange letter to the judge regarding Tinnian guilt. Harbit also lived in Coralville near where the vandalism incidents Tinnian was on trial for occurred. Tinnian and Harbit had been colleagues at the law firm of Dennis Bjorklund. Harbit, a substance abuse counselor, and Bjorklund had an unethical arrangement in which they referred clients to each other and charged excessive fees. Bjorklund also told his clients they needed to donate to a substance abuse charity to try to win sympathy from the court. But the charity was a fraud he had set up himself to collect the donations for his own personal use.
Tinnian reported Harbit and Bjorklund for ethical violations. He was vindicated when his testimony helped to suspend Harbit’s license and propel a decision to disbar Bjorklund. Bjorklund spent five years running from the FBI until he was finally captured in 2015 and arrested in a Pueblo, Colorado, traffic stop. He pleaded guilty to eleven federal counts of mail fraud and is awaiting sentencing.
Tinnian is very pleased with the settlement. “I’m happy that the matter seems to have revolved a full 180 degrees since three years ago,” Tinnian said. “I feel some measure of vindication.”
He said he wasn’t the only one vindicated by the court’s decision, and that the other victims of harassment and vandalism can find some vindication as well. Police and prosecutors have not admitted to evidence tampering, withholding of evidence or any other wrongdoing during trial proceedings.