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Bollen Makes Initial Appearance; Jackley Addresses Charges

armorA suit of armor watches Aberdeen from Joop Bollen’s window. The armor is part of Bollen’s collection of fine antiques.

This morning, that armor stared out at bleak April Fool’s snow. Marty Jackley was in town to put a chink in that armor.

South Dakota’s Attorney General entered the magistrate court room attached to Aberdeen’s City hall at 9:12 a.m. He wore a dark charcoal suit, black-and-white striped necktie, and a small AG pin that looks like a sheriff’s star on his lapel. Jackley wore a wedding band on his left hand and another ring on his right pinky. He and his assistant, Brent Kempema, greeted and conversed with Bollen’s local attorney Reed Rasmussen quietly and genially. As the small room filled with spectators, reporters (Aberdeen American News, SDPB, AP, Hub City Radio, SoDakLiberty, KELO, KSFY, KDLT), and defendants in the court’s other 55 cases for the day (all wondering, ugh, why cameras today?), Jackley chatted lightly, smiled, and occasionally chuckled quietly with Kempema and the female assistant at the state’s table.

Joop Bollen arrived a few minutes later. He entered smiling, in blue jeans and a blue sweater. The sleeves had brown patches, but Bollen had pushed those sleeves above his elbows. Reading glasses hung carelessly on his chest at the bottom of an unbuttoned V collar, which lay flat around his neck. On his left hand, Bollen wore a gold watch and gold wedding band. Bollen sat calmly in the back pew, away from counsel, chatting with no one.

Fifth Circuit Magistrate Judge Mark A. Anderson entered at 9:30, with admonishments to turn off phones and take off hats. As the audience resettled, Bollen slipped forward to sit next to his attorney. Anderson called Bollen’s case first, and Bollen and Rasmussen came to the defense podium.

Judge Anderson read the charges, five Class 6 felony counts of “destruction, disposal, or removal of personal property subject to security interest.” Judge Anderson asked if Bollen understood the charges; “Yes,” said the defendant, his only utterance in the brief hearing. Bollen nodded during the judge’s reading of the defendant’s rights and plea options. Bollen tilted his head slightly, curiously, during the judge’s explanation of nolo contendre. Prompted by Judge Anderson, attorney Rasmussen asked for a preliminary hearing. Judge Anderson set that hearing for Friday, May 13, at 2 p.m.; defense and state assented. Judge Anderson then moved on to case #2 of 56.

Attorney General Marty Jackley opens press conference on Joop Bollen's initial hearing, Brown County state's attorney's office, Aberdeen, SD, 2016.04.01.
Attorney General Marty Jackley opens press conference on Joop Bollen’s initial hearing, Brown County state’s attorney’s office, Aberdeen, SD, 2016.04.01.

Bollen and Rasmussen left the courtroom without comment. The press followed Attorney General Jackley across the street to a conference room in the Brown County state’s attorney’s office, where the A.G. opened not with a prayer but with an explanation of the charges against Bollen. He likened the appropriation of funds from the indemnification fund required by Bollen’s contract with the state to improperly converting a car or house loan to personal use. He addressed concerns that it seemed to have taken his office a long time to get to these charges by noting that this prosecution stems from new information discovered on December 23 (almost Christmas Eve, Jackley noted), 2015. Jackley said that new information arose from other civil proceedings, likely referring to the state’s lawsuit against Bollen’s EB-5 company to obtain cash and documents.

Responding to questions from the press, Jackley said that Bollen has thus far cooperated by turning himself in voluntarily. Bollen is free an an unsecured $2,500 bond (one thirteenth of what Bollen made last year on the TIF bonds he allegedly purchased with illegally appropriated funds). The state has not asked the well-traveled Bollen to surrender his passport; Jackley said that “at this point” he “not have concern” about the passport, “as long as we’re made aware of certain travel,” since Bollen has “significant ties financially to this community.”* Asked if Bollen’s cooperation has extended to answering questions or sharing documents, Jackley deferred to defense counsel.

Jackley would not go beyond the contents of the probable cause affidavit to explain when and how the bulk of the misappropriated funds were replenished, nor could he say where the remaining $166,606.89 Bollen allegedly took from the indemnification fund may be. Promising more details would come later in the trial, Jackley said that as a general concept, even if a defendant gives back improperly taken money, the defendant has still committed a crime, but the restoration of funds could mitigate the punishment. Emphasizing regularly that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, Jackley declined to say exactly what penalty he would seek for the alleged crimes. He noted that Senate Bill 70 (2013) requires a presumption of probation for “lower-level felonies.” If convicted, Bollen is thus unlikely to see bars.

A.G. Jackley chooses his words carefully in response to Dakota Free Press questions.
A.G. Jackley chooses his words carefully in response to Dakota Free Press questions.

Jackley said he is not able to talk specifics at this point about Pyush Patel, Bollen’s partner in SDRC Inc., who is named in the probable cause affidavit as receiving some of the improperly transferred funds. Jackley repeated what he said at last night’s Brown County GOP Lincoln Day dinner, that what we are seeing now is an “initial charging decision.”

Asked if the new information that prompted these charges might prompt a new look at matters like whether Bollen dodged $2.4 million in bank franchise tax, the Attorney General said his office will look into any evidence of criminal activity. Speaking in more vague generalities, Jackley said that even if evidence of mischief doesn’t lead to criminal charges, it can be used as Rule 404(B) evidence in other proceedings to strengthen the case against the defendant.

The probable cause affidavit alleges that Bollen and Patel bought TIF bonds on the EB-5-funded Northern Beef Packers with improperly appropriated (can we say stolen yet?) funds. Asked whether the improper origin of the purchasing funds could compel the defendant to forfeit those bonds, Jackley offered no answer and deferred to local authorities.

Today’s hearing and press conference offered little new information about what happened behind Bollen’s corporate armor. But Jackley’s statement about “initial” charges suggests he’s looking for more holes in that armor.

*Update 2016.04.02 08:46 CDT: Hub City Radio posts audio of the full 25-minute press conference with the Attorney General. I have updated and extended my quote from A.G. Jackley on Bollen’s freedom to travel based on that audio.

44 Comments

  1. Jenny 2016-04-01

    Cory, MPR would love you in MN. You would fit right in on their watch dog team!
    As always, thanks for the latest up to the minute in important SD corruption news.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    MPR should open a South Dakota bureau… and boost their signal so I can pick them up over the Coteau des Prairies!

  3. leslie 2016-04-01

    “initial” (gasp!).

    benda died in 2013. rounds was elected a year later.

  4. leslie 2016-04-01

    hilarious cory, and perceptive? “Bollen tilted his head slightly, curiously, during the judge’s explanation of nolo contendre.” the book has started!! good on yah.

    Bollen is his own lawyer, dangerously, we know, and Sveen, partner since 1979, of Rasmussen, partner since 1986, has trained joop well:) “Judge Anderson entered at 9:30, with admonishments … the audience resettled, joop slipped forward to sit next to his attorney, smiling, in blue jeans and a blue sweater.

    The sleeves had brown patches, sleeves above his elbows, reading glasses hung carelessly on his chest at the bottom of an unbuttoned V collar, which lay flat around his neck, and on his left hand, Bollen wore a gold [rolex] watch and wedding band. Bollen sat calmly….” (edits added:)

    absolutely f***ing hilarious. bravo!

    oh, sorry in the previous post, I missed xmas eve.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Rasmussen rebuffs the charges:

    “The state has decided to transform what should be at most a breach of contract case into a criminal proceeding in an apparent attempt to make Mr. Bollen a scapegoat for problems encountered with the EB-5 program,” Rasmussen said Friday. “There is absolutely no missing money. Mr. Bollen denies all the allegations and looks forward to clearing his name in court” [James Nord, “Attorney: Bollen Is Scapegoat for SD Visa Scandal,” AP via that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.04.01]

    Rasmussen is cribbing the Hanna defense for Phelps in GEAR UP.

  6. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Also sounds like Jackley let slip the state has a plea deal done and told the press the defendent could mitigate punishment by paying back the money. I’m thinking Bollen did worse things than misappropriate some money.

    Hope they force Rounds to testify.

  7. rsterling 2016-04-01

    Jackleg does not dare through Bollen under the bus. If Bollen sings, the truth puts lots of Rounds and Jackley’s good ole boys in jail. Move the trial to federal court.

  8. leslie 2016-04-01

    Rasmussen meant “Rounds’ scapegoat for problems encountered with the EB-5 program”.

    “Problems encountered with the EB5 program”???–joop walking forward blindly with his gold festooned arms out in front of himself feeling for “problems encountered” with the EB-5 program. gawd-allmitey! bastards will probably prevail too. they’ve had the evidence tucked up under ground, unseen for the last several years.

    wow. talk about an under-statement. the state is seriously a place of cover-ups.

  9. Loren 2016-04-01

    Jackley expects get the west river vote wearing a PINKY RING??

  10. jerry 2016-04-01

    Good that Joop has finally come to court to pay back the 166 grand that he is accused of taking. I appreciate the state going after any money that is due taxpayers. Speaking of taxpayers though, where are the federals in all of this, there are millions of dollars missing or strayed and the US Attorney’s office seems to not care about income tax payers missing funds. Joop gets to pay the money back, and all is forgiven?

  11. Jane 2016-04-01

    Cory, thank you for the vicarious experience in court. I would say the sleeves rolled up to the elbow Can be two messages 2. Gold Rollex, check out my spoils. 1. Cakewalk.
    This is a booger sized sacrifice. I’m still amazed at the audacity of the ” innocent till proven GUILTY ” here.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-01

    Where did he or how did get the cash to payback the state?
    I’d like to see a ledger of how he did the reimbursement.

  13. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Nice thought,Roger C. Unfortunately lawyer/client privilege will prolly nix that idea.

  14. Rorschach 2016-04-01

    “I paid back the money after I got caught.” Wasn’t that Rounds’ excuse after he got caught using the state plane for personal travel?

  15. mikeyc, that's me! 2016-04-01

    It’s the “pinky ring” that creeps me out.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Hey, Dr. McCoy wore a ring on his little finger, and I’ll bet he could win West River.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Forcing Rounds to testify in this trial seems unlikely. The alleged crimes happened in 2012, after Rounds left the Governor’s office. The crimes occurred due to violation of the GOED–SDRC Inc. contract, but Rounds’s knowledge of that contract seems immaterial to the alleged violations. These charges by themselves don’t drag the big fish into the net.

  18. El Rayo X 2016-04-01

    If the armor don’t fit, you must acquit. Too OJish? Just the same, Marty, do not have Joop put on the armor.

  19. Jeff Barth 2016-04-01

    When Rich Engels went to court with me asking those involved in the EB-5 Affair to preserve evidence in the case, the AG and US Attorney stood by silent. Rich and I were quickly brushed aside in court and things soon quieted down. At that time there was no political benefit to the AG or the Republicans in Pierre to make any effort in this putrid case as former Governor Mike Rounds was attempting to become our US Senator. I guess it was common knowledge that Richard Benda was the one that did it all.

    Now that a couple of years have passed and Rounds is safely ensconced in Washington DC, folks are positioning themselves to contend for other elective positions. How much evidence has been lost or destroyed? Will we ever see the autopsy? Will we ever know the whole story? Who can we trust in Pierre? Will those responsible for oversight who allowed this fiasco be charged?

    How much cash needs to be stolen, how many more dead bodies do we need before we clean up Pierre?

  20. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Rounds and Bollen go back aways. Be interesting to find out how far back and the extent of their relationship. Didn’t they take trips to China or the Phillipines together?

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Jeff, you and Rich showed foresight. You understood that corruption was afoot and that we needed to lock down the evidence to track down all of our money. Jackley and Johnson left the door open for evidence to be lost for a year and a half, making life easier for Mike Rounds.

    Yet here Jackley is, building a prosecution on evidence that wasn’t discovered until December 23, 2015, evidence that could have been revealed much sooner if he had shown an interest.

    Mike, I have no documentation of Rounds traveling overseas with Bollen on any EB-5 recruitment trip.

  22. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-01

    Reed Rassmussen told the Rapid City Journal today that Bollen is being a scapegoat, Reed didn’t say who made Bollen the scapegoat.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    And scapegoat for what, Roger? Who else snuck into the bank, moved money out of Indemnification Fund #2, and bought TIF bonds and Egyptian loot from Christie’s?

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Mr. Clanton aptly reminds DWC readers of this whopper from candidate Mike Rounds following the Darley decision in October 2014:

    Today’s decision proves what I’ve been saying all along—that everything my opponents have been saying about EB-5 are lies, innuendo, and nonsense misinformation [Mike Rounds, press release, 2014.10.07]

    Everything. Everything.

  25. Jeff Barth 2016-04-01

    CH,
    When elected to the Senate and sitting in a hotel room in Pierre bored out of your mind write the book about this. I’ll buy an autographed copy.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-01

    Exactly Cory, who is Bollen scapegoating for and how much has he been paid do so..

    I believe that post Mr. Clanton reminded us on DWC is the post that got me banned.

  27. 96Tears 2016-04-01

    Scapegoat? Keep Joop away from Charles Mix County.

  28. private richard 2016-04-01

    to bolen and attorney: clear,…, please clear all us fools up on this simple matter. we’ve been waiting since your buddy died and the other one got elected to u.s. senate and the other one had time to get the cash out of u.s.

  29. Rorschach 2016-04-01

    Let’s remember that Bollen never should have had control over a million dollar bank account. He was a state employee working for a state program. $120 million + that the South Dakota EB-5 regional center generated in fees should have gone to taxpayers. Instead, Mike Rounds not only allowed the Joopster to privatize it, but we the taxpayers actually PAID the Joopster to take all of the money. His no-bid contract called for the state to pay him to take all of the money. How ridiculous is that? The taxpayers have spent more on investigators and lawyers than taxpayers ever got from EB-5 fees. Mike Rounds let the Joopster privatize the profits and taxpayers got the expenses.

  30. Whither 2016-04-01

    In calling Joop a scapegoat, the lawyer is admitting that others are involved in EB-5 wrongdoing. (As a partner in Siegel, Barnett & Schutz, he might know a thing or two about that.)

    1) EB-5, in all its manifestations, is/was a clusterf*** of epic proportions;

    2) Angry, torch-bearing villagers are demanding something be done (ie, Marty realized he had a huge credibility problem with voters and is moving on multiple fronts to change that);

    3) Long the frontman for the EB-5 mafia, Joop is being forced to take some carefully crafted lumps publicly so Marty can carry his head around on a stick as he campaigns for guv’ner.

    4) The others involved in wrongdoing likely keep the millions moved through SDRC Inc. while poor Joop has to raid his mom’s purse to get a few hundred thou.

    5) South Dakota remains almost entirely in the dark about what happened to a whole lot of the millions & millions of EB-5-related funds.

    6) State and federal prosecutors continue to send out press releases about successfully prosecuting people for assault or failing to pay a few thousand in taxes or phone scams.

    :-/

  31. private richard 2016-04-01

    Jeff Barth: when all us (speaking for myself) fat-asses get off our butts and contribute more, much more, to democratic party and interest youth in politics (the good kind, the reasonable, the high-school debate class, the american legion boy’s/girl’s state, etc.). i was once interested but lost the fire, mainly because i wanted to get the heck otta here.

    and why does our wonderful state pay a u.s.d. football coach so much money? he’s so good he needs to make as much as the u.s. president (multiple year contract—what a disgusting waste of state(tax-payer) money!, and why does our educational system spend so much money so that each March/October we can lose to some big university or some underfunded smaller university’s sports program? We need to re-examine values, all the way down to high-school and grade-school. We are teaching our children (as if it never changed) to be winners/losers. that is the wrong track we have been down (almost) forever. we let the jerks do it to us.

  32. leslie 2016-04-01

    Joops crimes were callous intentional calculated deception that prisons do have value in deterring. Let him experience the dehumanization rape depression loss of voting credit ability to work ect ordinary people are deztroyed by our prozecutors and judges everyday institutionalizing poor people ill people mentally ill people. Joop is a real live criminal who will come out clean.

  33. grudznick 2016-04-01

    Yes. It is good that Mr. H out brained Mr. Bollen’s high paid lawyers in court. That is all swell and good, but mark my words here (people scribbling down grudznick’s words) when Mr. H uses this as a crown in his campaigns I just bet you that Mr. Jackely will come and take back that hat and Mr. H could not stop him.

    The really good thing here is that Mr. Bollen is wearing pinky rings. Only libbies wear pinky rings.

  34. grudznick 2016-04-01

    Here is what Mr. H’s reporting makes me, a swell enough fellow with more life experience than many of you. I think any fellow, no matter how square his head, who puts a suit of armor ass-first out his window is either insaner than most or is telling you a very specific message.

  35. Jane 2016-04-02

    The circus is back in town. ” the restoration of funds could mitigate the punishment.” Does this mean you can go dip into the governments coffers, like it is my personal cashpot of money? But so long as the money is put back, it’s okay? Wow thats a generous system. Didn’t know this government is into lending money, I want access too! No interest, fees nor penalties….

  36. Jane 2016-04-02

    The armor in Joopsters window is a definite statement of protection and invisibility. And a “kiss my a$$!”
    Somebody file a FOIA request and get some real justice served here.

  37. Bill Dithmer 2016-04-02

    I dont look at pictures much anymore but this time I wanted to see that suit of armor. Never got much out that pic, it looked like an old x ray. Using my special magnification device, imagine my suprise when I looked at the picture of Marty looking slightly up and noticed nary a line, where there used to be a few.

    To hell with all this courtroom talk, inquiring minds want to know, “Did Marty Have Some Work Done?” And if so by who? The Blindman might need some tightening. Sometimes gigantic manboobs, naturally curly hair, and a bubbly personality just aint enough.

    The Blindman

  38. Whither 2016-04-02

    If only the state of South Dakota had anything close to a FOIA law.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-02

    Jeff! Bored in Pierre, with you in my caucus crafting bills and tactics? Boredom seems unlikely. :-)

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-02

    Dithmer, don’t call that surgeon! We love you just the way you are. :-)

    As for Marty getting work done… well, I invite other readers to corroborate or refute Dithmer’s photo-analysis. But if there is a difference, could it be that Jackley simply feels younger again as he gets back to doing his job instead of covering for scuzbuckets? ;-)

  41. Francis Schaffer 2016-04-02

    Joop has cooperated so far? What about not turning over the documentation he took from his former NSU office to SDRC, Inc.? Marty come on, you received the new information because of the civil case and he did not voluntarily hand that over, you had to force him using legal measures to get it.

  42. Zen 2016-04-04

    Engineers who are members of the Order of the Engineer commonly wear a pinky ring to show their commitment to their profession and training. AG Jackley is a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines with a degree in electrical engineering. As such, he wears the ring.

    It may not be commonly known, but the ring is worn on the pinky of the dominant hand so that it comes into contact with all work done. Feel free to look it up on the internets.

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-04

    Jackley’s an engineer? How’d he end up practicing law?

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