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Who Turned the Wheels of Justice So Slowly… and Will They Keep Turning?

Update 07:27 CDT: Big wheel keep on turning: Attorney General Marty Jackley tells the Aberdeen American News, “These are the initial charges…. We anticipate further charges.”

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Original Post: 

Governor Dennis Daugaard finds the charges filed yesterday against former EB-5 czar Joop Bollen remarkable:

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but the state continues to pursue this matter in civil and criminal court. I appreciate the Attorney General’s efforts in this investigation [Governor Dennis Daugaard, press release, 2016.03.31].

Actually, we could contend that the wheels turned pretty quickly, once the principals chose to give them a crank. Bollen’s alleged crimes—filching money from a million-dollar fund that Bollen was supposed to hold in security for the state—took place in the first half of 2012. Governor Dennis Daugaard cancelled Bollen’s contract to run EB-5 in September 2013. The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee and the Attorney General spent most of 2014 (when the guy who hired Joop Bollen, their friend and former Governor Mike Rounds, was running for U.S. Senate) not subpoenaing documents, not grilling Bollen, and telling us that the only person who did anything naughty in EB-5 was poor dead Richard Benda. From outside appearances, A.G. Jackley didn’t go looking at Bollen’s books until maybe October 2015, when the feds came down on our EB-5 corruption and our executive branch had to scramble to save face. And according to the probable cause affidavit in the Bollen case, when DCI Agent Jon Bierne took a look at the books on or about December 23, 2015, it became pretty clear pretty quickly that monkey business had happened.

The feds themselves dawdled, somehow spending two years investigating South Dakota’s EB-5 program and not noticing Bollen’s financial trickery. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, where wert thou?

The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but in this case, that slow turning may have been a matter of choice. Now that the feds appear to have gotten the wheels of justice rolling, let’s watch closely to see if A.G. Jackley’s job is to keep them rolling or to shorten their spin to prevent them from rolling over anyone other than Bollen. Let’s see if Jackley final turns the wheel on that bank franchise tax Bollen didn’t pay. And let’s see if our legislators decide to make amends for their gutlessness and order GOAC to spend this summer revisiting its 2014 EB-5 findings.

33 Comments

  1. Justme 2016-04-01

    Thanks for doing this. Looking forward to hear who will be representing Joop.

  2. Rorschach 2016-04-01

    GOAC is a total joke. The GOP yes man who ran that committee ought to be run out of office.

  3. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Left some dead people by the wayside
    Woiking to protect the man who appointed me
    And I never lost one minute of sleep
    Worrying what peons thought of my integrity

    Big deals keep the skids greased
    Bad Marty indicts the deceased
    And keep rolling, rolling, rolling towards the guv’s job, rolllllling towards the guv’s jobbbb.

    Remember class-A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.

  4. Stace Nelson 2016-04-01

    To understand the level of corruption exhibited in how this was “handled,” it should be viewed and contrasted with how Daugaard and Jackley hosted press briefings and unleashed the full weight of government going after political opponents for the heinous misdemeanor crime of failing to attach a website address to 1st Amendment protected robocalls. How Jackley expeditiously turned out DCI and his office en masse, burning up overtime hours across DCI, to go after Annette Bosworth for minor crimes.

    Let’s not forget the sealing of the Benda death investigation via unprecedented invocation of privacy of an exwife, by Jackley.

    The unusual conflict of interest of the AG himself being appointed by Mike Rounds to act as a spokesman for Questions about Rounds’ involvement in this corruption.

    Let’s not forget the repeated vicious attacks, by establishment cronies, on those of us who pushed for accountability in this.

    It’s amazing how election year politics and political ambition caused this to be grudgingly brought back to light by the very person who’s been instrumental in keeping it in the dark.

  5. Darin Larson 2016-04-01

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” John Dahlberg-Acton

    South Dakota is reaping the rewards of one party rule. The question is will the public care or just dismiss it as expected conduct of politicians these days.

  6. leslie 2016-04-01

    stace, “Let’s not forget the sealing of the Benda death investigation via unprecedented invocation of privacy of an exwife, by Jackley.”

    let’s not add silliness to conspiracy. that’s perhaps the one bit of cover-up jackley did not abet. just convenient coincidence of a state LE statute to protect innocent family members. but you don’t care? there are children.

    oh, its ex-wife, I think.

  7. Paul Seamans 2016-04-01

    I would guess that now that things are starting to move on this that Mark Mickelson will have an announcement or two to make on the issue.

  8. leslie 2016-04-01

    well said paul, as usual, and I forgot to include u in a list of helpful people in a recent post.

  9. leslie 2016-04-01

    pretty much eliminates the credibility of the entire state republican party and nullifies rounds, jackley and daugaard’s election. good of the governor to make a public, self-serving white-wash of-a-statement. if he ever runs for anything again, it will have turned out to be too late for him with this baggage. buhbye.

  10. leslie 2016-04-01

    SD is a little slow on the uptake. here’s ONE sentence that lays it out.

    ‘Donald is a product of the same right-wing extremism that has flushed moderates out of the Republican Party, reduced political discourse to a debate over the relative size of bank accounts and genitalia, and revealed “politically incorrect” talk to be naked racism, sexism, and xenophobia.’ all for ratings.

    Trump is a rogue elephant, and he might just lead the entire herd over the electoral cliff. It’s a drama that’s almost Shakespearian in its combination of low comedy and fratricidal bloodletting. huffpo today front page

  11. 96Tears 2016-04-01

    leslie – This was a conspiracy. Between Mike Rounds, Richard Benda, Joop Bollen and the Board of Regents to bilk millions from a federal program.

    It then became a conspiracy to run down the clock in the 2014 election, first for the primary and then for the general election. Between Marty Jackley, Dennis Daugaard, Mike Rounds and his campaign, the fool Larry Teidemann and the GOAC, and the entire South Dakota Republican Party campaign machine.

    What’s even sicker is the Sanford Leader’s decision to marginalize the importance, depth, scope and wickedness of the conspiracy to defraud and steal and the conspiracy to conceal by failing to aggressively pursue these crimes and the racketeering network in their reporting and in their editorial page.

    Given that Marty Jackley is now, after the legislature left Pierre, tossing out charges on the smaller fish in both the EB-5 crimes and the Gear Up crimes, there should be renewed vigor to reopening the case of Richard Benda’s violent and mysterious death. Marty and those named above all lied to you and the entire state so far. Why should any of us take their word for anything dealing with these crimes and their cover up so far?

    Stace, keep giving them hell. They have it coming.

  12. 96Tears 2016-04-01

    One more point on the violent and mysterious death of Richard Benda. Who would have a motive to murder him to keep him from spilling the beans after Marty Jackley (allegedly) drew up three felony indictments and called for a grand jury?

  13. Darin Larson 2016-04-01

    Is there a confession in the offing:

    “Senator Mike Rounds
    ‎‎@SenatorRounds You can watch my @DakotaCon talk live at 12 CT here: http://dakotacon.org/#live

    I think someone in his office should have come up with a better catch-phrase than “DakotaCon” !!!

  14. Darin Larson 2016-04-01

    And in PP news, he isn’t concerning himself with the fallout over Joop. Predictably, his concern is with Democrats having candidates for 14 less state legislative races than Republicans.

    “nuts and bolts”– I think Troy? in another thread meant to say that PP covers the “nuts and dolts” in SD politics.

  15. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    All things considered, DakotaCon seems appropriate.

  16. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Let’s play Clue, 96 Tears. I’m guessing it was done by a stick or sticks unnamed in a shelterbelt with a shotgun being held hostage (by rope to a tree) and the motive was self defense.

  17. private richard 2016-04-01

    96 Tears: What I don’t get about Benda’s death is this. A shotgun blast to the belly is no way to commit suicide and also no way to execute somebody, unless to prolong suffering. Either scenario seems odd to me. Also, anyone hunting alone would not be stupid enough to accidentally shoot himself in the gut. My instincts tell me there is forensic info not in the public eye. Do you think?

    Also, at least to this point, I’m disappointed in Johnson. I would expect to hear more from him about all this bad crap going on in South Dakota misgovernment. Isn’t it a federal AG’s business to investigate state government-level corruption? With all the transfers of funds from the federal government to the state, all the conceivable money-laundering and tax-evasion (also at the tribal level), wouldn’t that be his bailiwick?

  18. Stace Nelson 2016-04-01

    @Leslie Jackley invoked and created a privacy exclusion that did not previously exist. Having dealt with countless families of death victims over the years, the last thing any of them ever wanted was for the investigative files to be sealed as that would exclude them too from knowing the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones. Sealing the investigation, where bits and pieces of the investigation have been purposely leaked already, does nothing to protect the children; however, facilitated the ability of the AG office to dictate Benda as the only suspect in the EB5 corruption, and use it as a distraction of the current and past administrations intimate involvement in that corruption.

    Regarding your Trump comments. Trump was a lifelong NY liberal Democrat and gives many current examples that he is still that masquerading as a Republican to fool voters. He is SD politics brought to life on the national stage.

  19. leslie 2016-04-01

    I agree with most of all this but we’ve said this all before. suicide is not rational and trying to be logical about it is foolish. stace i’m pretty sure u don’t kno what u r talking about.

  20. SweetPea 2016-04-01

    96 Tears – During all the years I spent working in an Emergency Room I “Never” heard of anyone trying to commit suicide by shooting themselves in the abdomen! It appears as a “hateful”, “vengeful” act meant to “shut him up”! How “stupid” do they think we are? This also brings to mind the recent “suicides”???? and burning of home at Platte, SD…..NO WAY do I believe he would “Kill” his wife & children over some miss handling of $$$…..Kill himself, maybe, but his children & wife……No Way!!!

  21. Stace Nelson 2016-04-01

    @Leslie 23 1/2 years of law enforcement experience, extensive training, countless death investigations experience, and a feature as a LE expert in Oscar nominated crime documentary (and others), demonstrate your “pretty sure u don’t kno what ur talking about (sic)” = nada

    I have worked a lot of suicides. The actions of the deceased do not make logical sense. That is why the claims that both these death scenes contain elements of logical efforts to confuse the perception of the manner (and causation?) of their deaths is so troubling. Additionally, the similarities in the MO are also troubling.

    Both these mysterious death scenes occurred In the middle of obvious governmental corruption and concerted efforts by governmental officials to down play and obfuscate the extent of political crony involvement.

    Of the multitude of gory suicide and murder cases I worked on? Not one to my knowledge had ever been sealed from the public. Every last one of them is 99% obtainable through FOIA (they redact SSN’s, other bio data of witnesses.

  22. leslie 2016-04-01

    stace fer chiss sake google the statute they used to keep the LE report sealed.

  23. mike from iowa 2016-04-01

    Is it logical to assume that Benda and Westerhuis would both be alive had they been armed?

  24. Robin Friday 2016-04-01

    Stace, Trump is not a liberal and never was. Narcissist fits better. He doesn’t care enough about anyone but Trump to be a called a liberal. Never has.
    Cory, kudos on the articles about EB5. I’ve been wondering when they were ever going to look at this guy Bollen. Even the lay-person could see he was the mastermind from Day One. I truly believe Mike Rounds was involved, at the very least by inattention and averting the eyes and the mind.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-01

    Robin, thanks! The EB-5 stories is one of the most important stories we need to tell in South Dakota. This issue is far bigger than assigning labels to Donald Trump (although on that score, he’s neither liberal nor conservative; he has campaigned as a fascist whom we must not elect).

  26. private richard 2016-04-01

    mike from iowa: only if the defender could use what they were packin’ in a timely fashion. i’m primarily liberal-leaning but believe law-abiding (whatever that is since there are so many laws to break) and properly licensed citizens should have the right to carry concealed anywhere in public. even the capitol. i don’t like the idea of gun nuts walking around open-carry. they just look stupid and ignorant in my mind. i think Stace is a bit extreme on a few things, but not crazy, at least generally speaking, so i probably wouldn’t worry about being in a packed room with him, and would want him on my side if lead was involved.

    on the other hand, i’ve seen generally law-abiding citizens who got crazy at times, usually alcohol involved, and the border-line between rational and irrational behavior crossed. that’s when i was glad they didn’t have a gun, and if there was, i was worried.

    i’m thinking we need to criminalize legal use of alcohol.

  27. Jeff Barth 2016-04-02

    On the autopsy issue.
    It seems every dead kid has their autopsy made public a day or so later. Usually it is revealed that the deceased had been smoking pot and the implication made that the fella deserved to die. Think of Trayvon Martin down in Florida. did they get permission from his mom before it was made public? I expect not. So why not Benda’s?
    But then again in the Martin case it was all the dead guy’s fault.

  28. leslie 2016-04-02

    there is a state statute that protects a suicide’s family as I recall. stigma, you know. society doesn’t handle such dark tragedy intelligently. as you can readily see in the press and commentary, mostly, in this case. His family has been trashed. They may never recover.

    again, I thank you for initiating your case to preserve evidence. not for the softball, though.

  29. Mark Winegar 2016-04-02

    The people have a couple chances to cleanup SD politics this year. First, vote as many GOP incumbents out of office as possible. Second, vote for IM #22 which will constrain lobbying and campaign finance as well as establish an ethics commission.

  30. mike from iowa 2016-04-02

    Benda’s daughter has reached the age of majority (I believe). Should she decide for herself whether to release autopsy? I assume, in most cases, the no release order can be rescinded.

  31. leslie 2016-04-02

    perhaps track using santama’s secret. violate privacy.

    my child was 18 at death. decades ago. my treated depression/ptsd remains one of the major disabilities I struggle with most days, effects nearly every activity, and if a stranger w/o my best interest at hand came digging, I would be hurt deeply. I miss the tragedy of what my loved one lost deeply, often daily, and treasure the kindness of good, thoughtful people who have healthy boundaries and good sense not to invade my privacy, despite that they may not have experienced such a thing. my dear friend, a trained therapist (not one of mine), often digs too deeply, and I am able to play it off with humor. other people I know in my position have deep scars easily reinjured.

    I only make this reply after much consideration, and given my respect for both mfi’s and jeff b’s continual positive contributions to this blog.

  32. leslie 2016-04-02

    it may be helpful to know that one of my deepest cuts came in the aftermath, seeking my own copy of the police report, which I destroyed and would NEVER share with any other person I loved. in recent dustups w/ stace, I can only mention that an experienced LEO at the time of the gun suicide, told me, in addition, unsolicited, as if using morgue humor, details which I never needed or wanted or asked to know, and would never share with any other person I care about.

    I also asked that the weapon in its condition be destroyed. if I were to ever learn it was not properly destroyed, I would consider suing the public agencies involved if possible. LEOs who do not have the integrity to maintain such serious boundaries of good citizenship are unqualified, imo. thus the existence of the statute, I assume.

    efforts to unearth irrelevant ugly details in this EB5 matter are foolish, to put it mildly. that LEO was one of many I had regular professional, friendly experience with, perhaps decades earlier. perhaps that LEO intended the hurt, but more likely just forgot i was the parent.

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