Bollen Pleads Not Guilty; Jury Trial Likely After 2016 Election, May Delay Civil Proceedings

Brown County Courthouse, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA
Watch for your lucky ticket for a front row seat in the jury box for State v. Bollen, coming to the Brown County Courthouse late this year!

In a genial and uncontroversial hearing at the Brown County Courthouse this morning, Joop Bollen, dressed in a thin grey polo shirt, well-worn blue jeans, and sockless red dock shoes, spoke eleven words in his distinctive Dutch accent: “Yes, your honor” twice, “No, you Honor” when asked if he had been coerced in his plea, and “Not guilty” when asked how he pleads to five counts of “unauthorized disposal of personal property subject to security interest”—i.e., using EB-5 program money he was supposed to keep locked up for the state as his personal ATM.

Bollen’s attorney, Reed Rasmussen, who as a Midwesterner has no accent, said Bollen wants a jury trial. Rasmussen and Deputy Attorney General Paul Swedlund agreed that the trial should take five days. Judge Tony Portra offered to set a date for this trial, but Swedlund noted that he did not have his absent co-counsel Brent Kempema’s calendar available. Judge Portra thus said the parties would work out a trial schedule by e-mail.

Given the complexity of the case, Judge Portra asked if the defense wanted to waive the 180-day rule. Rasmussen said that was fine, and Portra ballparked trial time for the fall… although if those 180 days start counting today and the trial might not happen until afterward, we’re talking about a trial in State v. Bollen (06CRI16-000383), after the general election, into snow season.

After the judge adjourned, Bollen turned to my daughter and said, “Was that interesting?” She didn’t speak then, but she told me afterward it was interesting. Maybe we’ll luck out and the big trail will happen during Christmas break.

A late 2016 criminal trial could mean no action on the state’s civil suit against Bollen’s EB-5 management company, SDRC Inc., until next year. Bollen’s other main legal squeeze, Jeff Sveen, filed a motion on May 17 to stay the civil proceedings (State v. SDRC Inc, 32CIV15-000270) against Bollen’s company until after the criminal proceedings discussed today are complete:

Defendant's Motion for Stay, State v SDRC Inc, 2016.05.17
Defendant’s Motion for Stay, State v SDRC Inc, 2016.05.17

Note that Sveen refers to Bollen in this motion as “the same person” as the subject of both State v. SDRC Inc and State v. Bollen. We all know that, practically, Joop Bollen and SDRC Inc. are the same person, but couldn’t Sveen’s acknowledgment of that fact have some legal ramifications for whatever liability may arise in these trials and in the EB-5 investors’ lawsuit (32CIV15-000312) against the state and SDRC Inc?

Bollen appears to have put a stay on cooperating with the state in that civil proceeding. On May 20, Special Assistant Attorney General Paul Bachand told the Sixth Circuit that Bollen has “failed or refused to provide answers or responses” to “written interrogatories and request for production of documents” served on February 22. (That’s more than a month before the state filed criminal charges against Bollen.) Bachand asked the court to compel Bollen to respond within ten days, pay for the hassle of filing this motion to compel, and whack Bollen with any other sanction the court feels appropriate.

Bollen has offered to put $817,603.33 into the Indemnification Fund One that his SDRC Inc. contract with the state’s office of economic development required him to maintain to handle any claims that arose from his EB-5 activities on behalf of the state. Interestingly, Bollen appears to have found this money available thanks to a conversation about his income taxes with Donald Kainz, partner at Eide Bailly LLC:

Donald Kainz, Eide Bailly LLC, affidavit, State v SDRC Inc, 2016.05.17
Donald Kainz, Eide Bailly LLC, affidavit, State v SDRC Inc, 2016.05.17

Bollen doesn’t want to pay income tax on that $817K, so why fight? Call it the state’s money, and hand it over! (Why didn’t I think of that when I did my 1040?)

However, according to a May 24 filing from Bachand, Bollen said he will surrender that money to the state only if…

  1. the state accepts that deposit as all that Bollen owes the state;
  2. the state holds Bollen harmless from any liability arising from that deposit; and
  3. the state drops any effort to get Bollen to pay any legal fees for the state from Indemnification Fund Two.

Bachand’s May 24 filing says nuts to that, demands that Bollen surrender that $817,603.33, and tells Bollen to be ready to turn over more if the state finds he owes more.

When I checked the court records yesterday, I found no orders from the judge, likely because we keep having to change judges. First Judge Mark Barnett stepped aside; then Judge Kathleen Trandahl stepped aside in May. A May 26 order indicates that Judge John Brown is the new substitute judge in the state’s civil case against SDRC Inc. and in the LP 6 Claimants case. Judge Brown has some reading to do, so the hearing on Bollen’s motion to stay and the state’s motion to compel will take place Monday, June 27, 9:30 a.m. Mountain, at the Stanley County Courthouse in Fort Pierre.


12 Responses to Bollen Pleads Not Guilty; Jury Trial Likely After 2016 Election, May Delay Civil Proceedings

  1. mike from iowa

    Pull Benda’s shotgun on Bollen-he’ll comply.

    This whole cluster should be taught in kindergarten law school on how not to investigate and prosecute.

  2. Nick Nemec

    His comment to your daughter is creepy as hell, and smacks as an attempt at intimidation.

  3. Roger Cornelius

    Nick,
    I had the pleasure of meeting Cory’s daughter last summer, she gave me the impression that she could hold her own against Bollen.

  4. Good! Let’s see what he’s willing to reveal in hope of saving his own hide.

  5. Private Richard

    I wonder if Mr. Bollen is the only grachtenscheißer left from the Rounds administration.

  6. It is disturbing that your daughter was subjected to a courtroom and an encounter with that big square headed fellow. How do you k ow he is not disturbed more than all

  7. drey samuelson

    Really excellent and comprehensive report, Cory–thanks!

  8. mike from iowa

    the state accepts that deposit as all that Bollen owes the state;

    Is this not an admission of guilt on Bollen’s part?

  9. PR: grachtenscheißer… “little Dutch bugger”?

    Roger, thanks! She seems unfazed by this brush with South Dakota corruption. I’ll ask if she wants to provide color commentary on the trial.

    And thanks, Drey! The hearing itself brought minimal new news; all the stuff going on in the background with the court filings tells us there’s still a real fight going on.

  10. David Newquist

    Actually, one who defecates in Dutch canals.

    Lost in the legal formalities is the relationship that members, past and present, of Siegel, Barnett, and Schutz have with Bollen and SDRC, not just as legal representatives, but as sponsors of Bollen’s career and active participants and beneficiaries of the EB-5 scheme.

  11. Indeed, David—I’m not sure the current action between the state and Bollen can lay out those relationships. Our best bet there may be the LP6 Claimants’ lawsuit.

  12. …and the relationship of that law firm with state republican government…. firms love to represent the state but after the eventual, inevitable tiff (because the state, like insurance companies as major, monthly billable clients, starts to dictate how much fees it is willing to pay).

    this firm will stop at nothing to win this case.