Two crimes, two punishments, and two prosecutors, one who is Attorney General, and one who wants to be.
Rocky Roy Rardon abused his position as finance director of the nonprofit Prairie Hills Transit and Child Care Center in Spearfish to steal $49,164.04 from his employer. Per the recommendation of Lawrence County state’s attorney John Fitzgerald, the court on Wednesday gave Rardon ten years in prison, five of which will be suspended if Rardon pays back the stolen money.
“I think we need to send a message that when you steal this kind of money, there are consequences to it,” Fitzgerald said. “The state is not a collection agency. We are in the business of protecting victims from theft” [staff, “Local Man Gets 5 Years in Prison for Embezzling Nearly $50K,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2017.08.05].
Joop Bollen used his position as director of the state’s EB-5 visa investment program here in Aberdeen to write himself a no-bid contract to privatize that job, then used that position to avail himself of $1.24 million in money belonging to the state for personal use. Bollen put all that money back before the state noticed, but the state eventually charged Bollen with five counts of “unauthorized disposal of personal property subject to security interest.” Attorney General Marty Jackley secured Bollen’s guilty plea on one count, for which the court fined Bollen $2,104 and granted “suspended imposition of sentence”—i.e., removal of the conviction from Bollen’s record if he behaves himself during two years of probation.
Rardon’s crime may put Prairie Hills Transit and Chid Care Center out of business, not just because of the financial loss, but because of the loss of trust in the organization:
[Executive Director Barbara] Cline said that the organization is now in jeopardy of losing city and county funding because community partners have lost trust, feeling that the money wasn’t watched over effectively [BHP, 2017.08.05].
Bollen’s crime was part of a larger pattern of corruption that did put South Dakota’s EB-5 visa investment program out of business, because of the loss of the federal government’s trust in South Dakota’s ability to manage the program properly.
Fitzgerald announced in March that he intends to seek the South Dakota Republican Party’s nomination for attorney general in 2018. Jackley is termed out of that job and is seeking the SDGOP’s nomination for governor in 2018.