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Morrie Returns! Former USCIS Official-Turned-SDRC Inc Exec Surfaces in EB-5 Scandal Docs

Joop Bollen’s response to the state’s effort to hang him for the corruption of South Dakota’s EB-5 program draws Maurice Berez back into the public spotlight. In its response to the USCIS begging to keep South Dakota’s EB-5 Regional Center status, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development includes the following e-mail from “Morrie”—Mr. Berez, that is:

Maurice Berez, e-mail to Joop Bollen and Austin Kim, October 2015, p.1
Maurice Berez, e-mail to Joop Bollen and Austin Kim, October 2015, p.1
Maurice Berez, e-mail to Joop Bollen and Austin Kim, October 2015, p.2
Maurice Berez, e-mail to Joop Bollen and Austin Kim, October 2015, p.2

Bollen or his lawyer Jeff Sveen appears to have stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” on Berez’s e-mail; the state appears to disagree with that designation.

Maurice Berez
Maurice Berez, promoting South Dakota’s EB-5 program in Zhuhai, China, August 20, 2010. Photo from

Maurice Berez gained his EB-5 expertise as chief adjudications officer for the USCIS under the GW Bush Administration. Berez approved the 2008 expansion of South Dakota’s EB-5 program. Berez then became an executive for SDRC Inc., the corporation Joop Bollen used to privatize his state EB-5 duties and make lots of money. Berez toured China with Bollen to recruit EB-5 investors for South Dakota projects.

In the twist of the morning, Berez is listed as part of the staff of, a company that focuses on EB-5 investment in China, alongside Robert Divine, a fellow former USCIS official whom GOED has hired as its lead lawyer in persuading USCIS not to cancel our EB-5 access.

Interestingly, Berez does not offer any comment on the specific accusations of error and misconduct that the state and Bollen are trading. Berez simply lays out the rules that would cause 274 EB-5 investors and their families to lose their legal immigration status if USCIS terminates South Dakota’s Regional Center status. “For the interests of several hundred South Dakota EB-5 investors at risk here,” writes Berez, “it is critical that the State of South Dakota prepare an effective response that addresses, clarifies and otherwise mitigates each of the factors cited by USCIS as its basis for issuance of the Notice of Intent to Terminate.”

Unstated is whether Berez, as a former SDRC Inc. official under Joop Bollen, stands to collect any residual fees from his help in recruiting those investors, or whether the “effective response” he was hoping the state would issue would focus on hanging his old pal Joop.


  1. leslie 2015-11-02


  2. mike from iowa 2015-11-02

    Guys weren’t concerned about several hundred investors whose money inexplicably disappeared into the gaping black hole of greed called Joop Bollen. They lost their money and their chances for green cards. Ain’t no one responsible shed a tear for these dupes.

  3. leslie 2015-11-02

    maurey, or whatever is just trolling for more work. its not people like him with some professional ethics that we need to worry about, its rounds, daugaard, jackley, joop, sveen and these regents and nsu boys and their lawyers, and state republican (primarily) administration lackeys who have covered up so much.

  4. jerry 2015-11-02

    Every investor in a state sponsored agreement, should expect that investment to be honored. This is not an investment into Joop’s Garage or Austin’s Buffet, it is the State of South Dakota these investors were told they were investing in. The US Attorney should develop a pair and go after the crooks and liars that put our name in the crapper with this corruption scandal. Start at the top, Marion EB-5 Rounds himself, then his second in command, Dennis Stretch Daugaard, the consigliere to this scheme, Marty Jackley and then the actual grifter himself, the made man, Joop the screw, Bollen. Those that perpetuated the false narrative against Benda, according to the barrister in Aberdeen, should be made to recant the claim while bringing forth the autopsy of Mr. Benda. Simple stuff if you want to get to the bottom of this and start again.

  5. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-02

    The letter says several hundred investors. Let’s assume that several is 5. That would mean that the program had taken in 1/4 billion dollars. Is there any accounting of how many investors total there have been in SD’s EB-5 program and then the more important question, where did the money go?

  6. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-11-02

    CAH, any plans on doing a story highlighting Thune and Rounds’ duplicity on voting with the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling? Remember, Rounds claimed he was going to DC to oppose Obama’s spending and agenda in order to beat Rick Weiland (and others). So far? Rounds has been pretty good at supporting Obama’s agenda. Guess it was money well spent by DC lobbyists?

  7. leslie 2015-11-02

    …so austin is apparently a santa clara immigration lawyer out of law school maybe 10 years, that James Lynch, Regent’s lawyer, identified as one of the Hanul law firm lawyers professing to represent the regents or state, without authority.

    why is morrie writing joop AND austin, where is austin now, and apparently joop and sveen are working with austin? hilarious, in a way.

    and why do you say, “joop’s response”, cory?

  8. Rose 2015-11-02

    Wow, I am predicting more shot gun suicides when the investors get kicked out.

  9. rollin potter 2015-11-02

    Hey CORY,AS I said a long time ago, keep an eye on MR. SVEEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-02

    Leslie, I say “Joop Bollen’s response” because the Berez e-mail apparently arose in response to Bollen calling his pals for help. Berez sent this e-mail to Joop and Austin. Joop in turn sent this email to Sveen, who submitted a response to the state, which included Sveen/Bollen/Berez’s materials in its response to USCIS.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-02

    DD: debt ceiling? What topic are we on here?

    Lanny, Berez uses the Marty Jackley definition of “several.” The actual number is 274.

  12. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-11-02

    I presume that you mean 274 total not 274 hundred, Cory. So that would still mean over an 1/8 th of a billion. So where’s the money or an accounting thereof?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-03

    Correct, Lanny! Evidently Morrie defines “several” as “2.74”. On accounting, that depends: which books do you want to see? Each of the funded busineses (Dakota Provisions, Day County Wind, Deadwood Mountain Grand, whoever kept the records from Northern Beef Packers) would have their own ledgers of how they used the $500K EB-5 investments. SDRC Inc. would have the accounting of how Joop and friends used the fees beyond each $500K.

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