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Prosecutor: Mom in Iowa murder case tried to bolster her defense

Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A mother convicted of a high-profile Iowa murder wrote to a Wisconsin child sex offender in an attempt to find a witness to bolster her legal defense, but the letter was alarming because it included a photograph of children and personal information about her ex-husband, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The prosecutor who convicted Tracey Richter said he was concerned enough that he alerted an attorney for the ex-husband, Michael Roberts, who is locked in a custody dispute over whether he can move with their two children to his native Australia. The letter included information that could be used to find Roberts, such as his Social Security number, date of birth and physical description.

“She’s dangerous and everybody keeps underestimating her,” Sac County Attorney Ben Smith said. “I feared for Michael and his kids.”

Richter was convicted of first-degree murder in November for fatally shooting her neighbor, 20-year-old Dustin Wehde, at her home in Early, Iowa, in 2001. Richter claimed self-defense, saying Wehde and another man broke into her home while she watched her children. Prosecutors argued that Richter tricked Wehde into coming over, shot him and planted a notebook in his car to implicate him and her first husband in a murder-for-hire scheme.

Richter’s attorney didn’t return a message seeking comment.

James Landa (AP Photo/Wisconsin Department of Corrections)

Days before she was sentenced to life in prison, Richter sent the letter and photo to Wisconsin prison inmate James Landa, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. Landa had written to Richter after her trial, saying he supported her and had been following the case because a fellow inmate who hails from Iowa subscribed to a local newspaper.

In her response, Richter repeatedly asked Landa if his friend had personal knowledge of the crime. She said she included the photo of other children because it might cheer him up, and asked: “Kids are cute, huh?”

The letters have become public as Roberts seeks permanent custody of their two children, who are 12 and 13, and permission to leave the country. Richter and her relatives oppose the request. A trial is scheduled for next month.

In an affidavit supporting Roberts, Smith said the letter was one of many examples showing “that putting an ocean between them and the above-demonstrated harm is in the best interests” of the children.

Smith said it was obvious Richter was trying to solicit testimony to help her win a new trial, but that the carefully worded letter did not amount to a crime. He said it was not clear whether Landa received the letter, which was was copied by a jailer before Richter’s mother left the jail with it in late November. The photo was found in Landa’s prison cell, but the letter wasn’t, he said.

The letter also included personal information about Wehde and another man whom Richter claims was the second intruder, along with detailed sketches of her old home and the car where the notebook was found. She told Landa it was “possible there was another lookout person.”

Smith said the only reason she would include such details was to help someone come up with testimony.

“The intentions were clear. She’s not stupid. This is her Doug Flutie toss in the end zone,” he said. “She has to get information for a new trial.”

Landa wrote Richter several letters telling she was pretty and that he wanted to be her friend, even including poems expressing his love for her. When Richter wrote back, he responded that her letter was like getting a Christmas present.

In a second letter to Landa — the one that alarmed Smith — Richter told him: “My trust must be earned over time. And actions speak louder than words.”

She said if the other inmate knew something, “the statute of limitations has run out on assault and burglary, so there is nothing to lose if someone feels bad and wants to do the right thing.”

Her letter said her lawyer could put his friend in touch with a television show covering the case. She included a police file that mentioned Roberts’ former home, adding: “The details provided are given in case you need to confirm something.”

Tracey’s mother, Anna Richter, told the judge in the custody case that her daughter asked her to check out Landa’s background. She said she did not remember the letter.

“No way did Tracey ask me to give a pedophile information on my grandchildren,” she wrote to the judge last month. “For one thing, we have no idea where they live.”

Roberts, who is living in California, moved to the U.S. after meeting Richter online and getting married in the 1990s. He said he needs to move back to Australia to escape a smear campaign by Richter’s family.


  1. Dear Mr. Foley,

    Michael Roberts along with his business partners Adam Stuart Zuckerman and Paul Portelli planned to have me killed in the event I ever went public with his latest criminal enterprise.

    In fact you go to this link and listen to recording of the planning sessions which also detail how he was covering up the murder of a patient for one of his wealthy clients, here is that link.


    Michael Roberts threatened me that if I set foot in Iowa during the murder trial of Tracey Richter he would have me arrested.

    Fox News broke a story called ‘Google-cide’.

    Here is that story – http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/20/google-cide-online-reputation-managers-can-wipe-from-web/

    Michael Roberts paniced because he plans to profit greatly from he conviction and he was willing to do anything to avoid paying child support even though he was billing himself out for $600-$1,000 per hour according to his interview with jounalist Glenn Puit.

    Glenn Puit published an article about Michael Roberts that in my opinion clearly shows Michael Roberts attempt to extort money from a consumer advocacy website in regards to a hacking code he had at the time.

    This was the same code that allowed him to cover up criminal conduct of wealthy clients. Here is the link to that story which details the exortion :


    Michael Roberts will either plan to murder or sue anyone who opposes him.


    ” In or around February 2011, Zuckerman, Ryan Page, Michael Roberts and Paul Portelli developed a marketing plan that included:
    (1) selecting targeted persons and companies who would be concerned about their online reputation,
    (2) intentionally posting negative and disturbing information on the internet about the target,
    (3) and contacting those targets to sell them Rexxfield product to fix the damage that Rexxfield had caused itself.
    For example, in one meeting they are heard illustrating their proposed marketing strategy of sending the parents of “Little Johnny” a fabricated picure of Little Johnny with a gun in his mouth.

    See fox article here – http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/20/google-cide-online-reputation-managers-can-wipe-from-web/

    Because of the criminal and proposed unethical conduct, I terminated my business relationship.
    Michael Roberts was so impressed with the ‘Little Johhny’ marketing campaign that he sold 60% of Rexxfield to Adam Zuckerman the same day 1-28-2011

    Michael Roberts has been engaged in what I believe to be criminal acivity.

    He took part planning to destroy people’s reputations and silence the voice of victims nationwide by utilizing his hacking technology.

    He took part in deleting 1000’s of consumer advocacy websites reports which were placed to warn the public. He even removed reports warning of a doctor whom had killed a patient because she lacked the training to perform the procedure.

    He took part in the planning of filing a false police report in order to obfuscate his business dealings with Adam Stuart Zuckerman.

    He took part in the plot to have me killed.

    He allegedly tried to extort the Ripoff Report in order to tell them how the hacking technology worked – please see – http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/computer-hacking-code/online-reputation-management/sbwire-131240.htm

    It would be nice to see a fair and balanced article about Michael Roberts.
    Please contact me directly with any questions (949) 715-1521

  2. Darren Meade – Case Study In Internet Smear Campaigns

    Unfortunately Darren Meade’s obsession with me has necessitated naming him in a defamation and civil conspiracy lawsuit which should settle the matter by a jury of our peers, rather than by a jury of public opinion based on who yells the loudest online. Frankly I have better things to do,

    Darren Meade neglects to point out that either I or my staff were responsible for making the recordings of the meetings with the Zuckerman crew, and having nothing to hide turned these over to law enforcement, journalists and to Darren thinking we were all on the same side and working to expose Zuckerman, Ripoffreport.com’s owner, Ed Magedson subsequently employed Darren to blog for him, and they conspired together to throw me under the bus because (a) Ed knows I have dirt on him and was planning to expose him and (b) because Darren needs the money Ed is paying him.

    Darren Meade even attempted to recruit my assistant Paul into joining the Ripoffreport smear campaign team attack, hoping that like Darren, Paul would put money before the facts; thankfully Darren mis-read Paul’s character.

    More information is available at the website I have established in an attempt to counter the OCD fueled narcissistic rage that Darren Meade is directing at me since I refused his extortion demands in October 2011:


  3. WAIT!!

    Isn’t this an article about a woman convicted of murder?

    I don’t care about the Darren Meade v. Michael Roberts pissing match not the Michael Roberts v. Ripoff Report pissing match.

    It seems that Darren Meade trying to alert the reporter that he had information that was valuable for justice to prevail in the Tracey Richter murder trial and was threatened by her ex-husband Michael Roberts with arrest is Meade went to share his testimony.

    According to Meade, Roberts conspired with two other men to kill him in the event Meade, went public with a 50 caliber hollow point bullet that just explodes his brain. He offered for people to go and listen to the recording themselves at


    The tapes are beyond disturbing. They not only detail the murder plot of Meade but detail something called Google-Cide and the creation of defamatory content aimed at our children to force us into hiring these peoples ‘Reputation Management’ company because what they put online about our kids might make them commit suicide and they know we would pay any price to protect our children.

    Michael Roberts, Paul Portelli and Adam Zuckerman are the people heard discussing potential murder on the tapes.

    It was said two assailants visited Tracey Richter that night, just as Michael had two partners in discussing killing Meade.

    In the link provided is a detailed breakdown of a false police report that they (Rexxfield) planned to file to confuse the police investigation and once again an audio recording is provided.

    It seems that their is a reason Michael Roberts was plotting Meade’s murder and threatened him with arrest if he step foot in Utah.

    Intrigued, I called Darren and asked him direct questions to the allegations made by Michael Roberts.

    I asked:

    1.) Darren, are you be sued by Michael Roberts?
    Response “I have not been served any legal papers from Michael. I would look forward to such an action to put all of this information into a public forum and to stop his partnership with Zuckerman”

    2.) Michael Roberts says he has nothing to hide and turned all the tapes over to law enforcement,
    journalist and you thinking you were all working on the same side.
    Response “My reply in this forum has to do with the witness intimidation I endured from Michael and his willingness to partake in the creation of false police reports, etc. And how this is erily similiar to certain issues with the murder trial. Go to report and listen to the tapes yourself, listen also to the tone of these people and understand Michael was able to cover up for a client a murder that took place, listen to his personal assistant Paul Portelli discuss what he wants to do to me personally. I do not want to Judge anyone but it seems Michael Roberts is once again manipulating a young man who is somewhat troubled in Portelli and prone to violence and allegiance to Roberts.”

    3.) Are you hired as a blogger for Ripoff Report?
    Response: “LOL, No. First of all, people need to listen to the audio tapes to understand the term Google-Cide and to see the types of voices of victims being silenced by the hacking code. We are talking about young mother’s dying during plastic surgery because the doctor was not trained, when the family tried to warn others via Ripoff Report, and it cut into the doctors profit that was the ideal client for Rexxfield (they called them ‘whales’ because they could pay nearly $20,000).
    I reached out to Ripoff Report to make certain they knew about the hack to stop victims voices from being silenced and then I filed a report just as anyone in the public can do. This time though, Roberts was unable to intimidate Ripoff Report as he had with Fox News and other sites. I hope they continue not to give in to his threats.”

    4.) Did you try to extort Michael Roberts and do you have OCD?
    Response: “LOL…first of all, both Michael Roberts and Paul Portelli lived at my home in Laguna Beach for awhile. They could not afford a hotel room, and Michael lived here multiple times. A side note, when they were making the plans to kill me, they were living at my home at the time, claiming to be my Christian brothers.
    I am going to email you all the emails from October, 2011 and November / December of 2010. Michael Roberts owed me $8,000 because I paid him in 2010 because he claimed the ability to have information de-indexed from Google, he was never able to perform. The email he always references as extortion you will see two things:
    1. He is claiming a breakthrough that he is finally going to perform ( he never did )
    2. He offers to resolve matters via mediation through the church
    I declined his job offer and offer for mediation. This is when he began to threaten me with being arrested if I went to the Iowa murder trial. As for OCD, I was an athelete my whole life and earned a living in physique competition. That being said, I concentrate very well and have a strong ‘bull-dog’ tenacity.’

    Darren went on to say : “The tapes are the tapes and the documents are the documents, Roberts can spin all he wants but he made all these plans, was willing to make money put teenagers on the brink of suicide and to cover-up the deaths of people from the Internet exactly as it is written on Ripoff Report.

    Michael Roberts in the Fox News story called Google-Cide never once said anything about Adam Zuckerman. The reason why? When he sold 60% of Rexxfield on 1-28-2011 on Page 3 of the contract is a Confidentiality & Damages provision and he agreed to $100,000 liqudated damages provision and according to the contract you cannot tell the truth is it would be disaparaging and it spells out “(i.e. truth is not a defense)”

    What type of business deal or people are you dealing with when you have that as a contractual provision.”

    Indeed, I (Tabitha) never have heard of such a thing. Darren said he is willing to speak to anyone with interest in this story.

    Looks like drama is brewing which makes me wonder…why the witness intimidation and how does the DA allow such a thing?

  4. Darren,

    According to “Tabitha Stevens” You said “I have not been served any legal papers from Michael. I would look forward to such an action to put all of this information into a public forum and to stop his partnership with Zuckerman”

    I am was going to arrange for service next week. Would you be willing to accept service electronically, or make an appointment to meet with my process server? If so, drop me a line and I’ll send you a template that you can lodge with the court, or I can put you in contact with the process server directly.

    The complaint can be reviewed here:



  5. Mr. Meade. I have emailed your private email, and posted the above notice. I too look forward to putting all of this in the public record. Keep in mind that the longer you publish your diatribe online, you do not have the privilege and immunity that you have in litigation (although you then have the risk of perjury).

    Which will it be Mr. Meade, libel, perjury or the truth? My process server is standing by when you are ready to stop running. I am still willing to have mercy on you because you are irrelevant, it is your employers that pose the greatest danger to society.

    Michael Roberts

  6. MIchael Roberts is having what we like to call post-reactive sphincter contractions, now that his witness intimidation for his ex-wifes murder, and his cover-up of the death for a clinet, plus,exposing the last 9 months of Robert’s scheming and criminal behaviors, including highly illegal DDOS attacks on domestic and international websites.

    Here is an article in which famed investigative journalist Glenn Puit proves Michael Roberts attempted to extort consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report with his hacking technology :


    Remember, Fox news broke the story about Michael Roberts and Google-Cide


    Roberts, Adam Zuckerman, Ryan Page and Paul Portelli developed a marketing plan that included: (1) selecting targeted persons and companies who would be concerned about their online reputation, (2) intentionally posting negative and disturbing information on the internet about the target, (3) and contacting those targets to sell them the Rexxfield product to fix the damage that Rexxfield itself had caused itself. For example, in one meeting Zuckerman, Page and Roberts are heard illustrating their proposed marketing strategy of sending parents of “Little Johnny” a fabricated picture of Little Johnny with a gun in his mouth. Listen to audio here http://www.ripoffreport.com/organized-crime/google-cide-exposed/google-cide-exposed-by-the-man-01cd6.htm

    Michael Roberts arrest for domestic violence against Tracey Richter and his step-son

    12-27-2000 Michael Ross Roberts of 105 W. South Avenue in the city of Early beat his wife Tracey Richter-Roberts which was witnessed by their children according to the Sac County Sheriff’s Office.

    The report reads : ” At the time I phoned the residence I spoke with a Young child at the residence. I repeatedly asked the child to have someone older or an adult come to the phone. At this time the child stated that he was not at the home alone but that no one could come to the phone. I then identified myself and asked if mommy was there and to have her come to the phone. The child stated that his mommy could not come to the phone because his Daddy had come home knocked her to the floor and drug her off he her hair. When repeatedly asked how old he was he would advise he was two years of age. At this time I could not get the boy to get someone else to come to the phone. He would just repeat his story of Daddy coming home and knocking his mother to the floor and dragging her off by her hair…”

    A short time later according to the report officers were in the front home with Michael Roberts who was the suspect and that he had began filling out the domestic abuse forms.

    Burt Pitman was the other child at home and permission was granted to speak with Burt Pitman whose date of birth was 02-01-1990. He advised the officer he was ten years old and understood what was going on.

    “Burt Pitman then told me he had gone next dor to his parents office and that he had observed his parents fighting. He stated he could hear that they were yelling at each other. When he asked what he had seen Burt stated he saw his step father Michael Roberts pull his mother’s pony tail and swing her into the floor. He then kneed her or got on top of her and put her arm around her back. He stated at this time they were smreaming and yelling at each other. Burt states he he had not witnessed his mother do anything to his step father. He stated he had witnessed him hit her in the past and heard them fighting allot. Most of this was in chicago where they used to live. He stated that his dad has a really bad temper and is explosive. At one point I made sure he was calling his step dad as his dad. He assured me he was talking about Michael Roberts. Burt stated that Michael Roberts had struck him in the past. He stated one time was when he was camping with his Aunt Lisa and Step Uncle. He stated he felt he caused the incident by not cleaning up after a horse. Burt stated Roberts became upset when he began screaming and struck him in the face which broke his nose.

    He stated his mother knew about the times he was struck and that she never took him to the doctor. He stated he had been badly bruised after he was spanked with a rod. Burt stated he was always told to say that he fell down the stair to cover up the truth. The last incident was with the horse and that happened about a month agao saying October or November. He stated he used two different stories to cover the truth that time once he fell down the staris and one that he fell and hit a street curb playing football.

    Burt Pittman stated that he misses allot of school because of the abuse. he told me that he missed at least one day after the nose incidence. He stated he had to stay home because his nose would not stop bleeeding.

    Burt Pittman told me that he is always called stupid and names by Michael Roberts and that he is often hit in the head with a closed hand. He then described the hits by showing me a downward swing with a closed fist. He says he is constantly threatened by Michael Roberts that if he tells what is happening to him that he won’t have a family anymore. He stated he is also told he would have to go live with his real father, John Pitman. At one point he was told by Michael Roberts that his real dad is not a very good person and knowing him he would leave him on the street corner in Chicago.

    Burt Pitmtman stated that his father Michael Roberts usually starts the incidents with his mother by hitting her in the eyes. He stated that no police were called in the past …I then spoke with Tracey Roberts again about the accusation made by her son Burt. She then backed his story up but down played the situations. She also turned over a short piece of green cane, which she stated was what Burt was calling a rod. This was turned over to Chief Ray.

    At this time Tracey Roberts was wanting to recant her story and make things go away. At one point she stated you don’t know what he’s capable of doing and that she still loves him.

    Michael Roberts was then placed under arrest for domestic abuse…

    Mr. Roberts made numerous statements that he knew he was in violation of the domestic abuse laws”

    Michael Roberts is a Class A scam artist, and his craft of “Internet Forensics, ” yada yada, is pure garbage and about as useful of taking your chances with Three-Card Monte.

  7. I would like to make a public record that I notified SAC County Attorney Ben Smith aware of abuse and other issues with Noah and Mason Roberts.

    This was prior to Ben Smith being called as a witness for Michael Roberts on the hearing in Buena Vista County.

    Ben Smith was also made aware of the audio recordings in which Michael Roberts and another young man whom he mentors planned to have me murdered.

    My information was ignored and because Michael Roberts will not provide an actual address child protective services in Iowa and California cannot investigate.

    Ben Smith of SAC county is allowing Roberts the ability to continue his abuse, the same type of abuse listed in his previous arrest for domestic violence.


  8. What is going on here, we already know that Tracey Richter fabricated the spousal abuse claim, I think this is a supporter of Tracey, trying to start rumors again.

  9. Darren M Meade

    Dear Stacey,

    Michael Ross Roberts was arrested and plead guilty (no contest) to the beating his then wife Tracey Richter in front of their two sons.

    Both sons (even the two year old) are listed in the arrest report.

    Additionally, on 3/21/2007 the Iowa Department of Human Services Confirmed and Placed within the Child Abuse Registry that Michael Roberts abused Noah and Mason Roberts.

    Dateline NBC only focused on the beating the oldest child Bert endured including the breaking of his nose.

    The audio recording, abuse reports are all matters of fact.

    Ben Smith the Sac county Attorney was advised of this and more information which he ignored and then spoke as a character witness for known child abuser Michael Roberts.

    Who know is in charge of the very children whom he was found to have abused. The report is listed as incident number 2007052148

  10. Detailed information on Sac County Prosecutor Ben Smith and Michael Roberts can be viewed here – http://www.ripoffreport.com/ben-smith-michael-roberts-rexxfield/prosecutorial-misconduct/sac-city-sac-county-iowa-B1A77.htm

    The link will take you to the actual documents including Michael Roberts being placed on the Child Abuse Registry for abusing his youngest children whom Prosecutor Smith has had Michael hide away in Hawaii.

    In the event the link is not allowed, you can google the following to find the information – “Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Prosecutor Ripoff”

  11. Tracey Richter is guilty. Enough said.

  12. Hey everybody, the good news, Tracy Richter will be in prison for life serving the needs of her cell mates as ordered, that’s what her kind resort to to survive when all else fails.

    But the bigger news is, Darren Meade is going to be sitting in Iowa prison. And quite possibly the owner of ripoff rip report.

  13. Wow there are some one tracked closed minded people to the truth of the facts here.

  14. As reported earlier, Darren Mitchell Meade, Investigative Journalist, Orange County, California, vindicated by vindictive prosecution to chill his reporting. The charges witnesses tampering and extortion committed were dismissed with prejudice. The State acknowledged that such a dismissal would bar future prosecution of all charges set forth in the trial information and that Darren Mitchell Meade had no criminal intent in reporting about his belief that prosecutor Ben Smith, flawed criminal prosecution of Tracey Richter, resulted in the incarceration of an innocent woman.


    Today, Darren Meade released the sworn testimony of prosecutor Ben Smith, admitting that he wrote search warrants and legal motions with the help of Michael Roberts, Rexxfield to smear the reporter

    The transcript has become a cause célèbre for its twisted plot carried out on Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes Australia and multiple shows on Discovery ID network.


    One of Richter’s ex-husbands is Michael Roberts, a suspect in the murder of Dustin Wehde.

    As explained in the prior report:

    Criminal charges are never appropriate if used to silence critical speech. I was punished and targeted for engaging in my constitutional right to criticize public officials and report on controversies and the people involved in those controversies.

    I reported about my belief that a flawed criminal prosecution resulted in the incarceration of an innocent woman ( Tracey Richter ).

    Journalism is not a crime and it’s not harassment. Prosecutor Ben Smith, was the prosecutor whom wrongfully convicted Tracey Richter.

    The prosecution chilled my rights to report on matters of public concern.

  15. Iowa, prosecutor Ben Smith’s sworn testimony, that Michael Roberts Mile2, helped prosecutor draft motions against reporter Darren Mitchell Meade.

    Smith and Roberts retaliated against reporter after this video report:


    After persecuting Meade for 9 months for utilizing his first amendment rights. ….. that means that Smith stopped prosecuting Meade for the things Meade reported on, and Smith cannot change his mind again and re-file the charges. Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismissed all charges against Darren Meade on May 27, 2015, with prejudice without conditions.


  16. Never before had a journalist been charged in Iowa (or elsewhere) for merely reporting his belief that a flawed criminal prosecution may have resulted in the incarceration (for life without the possibility of parole) of an innocent young mother.

    Not only did the attempted prosecution of Meade punish him for engaging in his constitutional right to criticize public officials and report on controversies and the people involved in those controversies and the people involved in those controversies, the prosecution of Meade chilled the rights of all journalist to report on matters of public concern, especially when those matters are critical of someone of with the power to criminally prosecute them if there is a disagreement with the reporting. Criminal charges are never appropriate if used to silence critical speech.

    Darren M. Meade said: “When we deal with the powerful, we have to make a stand. I will continue to advocate for the downtrodden with fact-based journalism.”

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