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GEAR UP Defense Goes Political, Says Jackley Wants More Fall Guys

The pivotal argument in the GEAR UP trials may be a political argument:

Guericke’s defense attorney, Mike Butler, says his client’s only crime was trusting Scott Westerhuis.

“My client is guilty of trusting Scott and Nicole. He worked there for 16 years; I think everybody trusted him. And he exploited it and when he felt he was going to be exposed, he did the ultimate horrible act.  The act of a coward.  He killed everybody and then he leaves these people standing in the wake and the Attorney General comes in and says, ‘I need a few more people to pay.’ I think it’s just horrible what’s going on,” Butler said [Angela Kennecke, “Defense in GEAR UP Case Claim They Did What Westerhuis Told Them; ‘Everybody Trusted Scott’,” KELO-TV, 2017.03.16].

Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Marty Jackley argues that GEAR UP can’t fall on one guy:

“It would not have been possible for Scott Westerhuis acting alone to accomplish all that was discussed over the last two days. It took somebody addressing payroll. It took somebody making invoices, it took somebody finding matching grants; it took somebody testifying in front of the South Dakota legislature. There were a lot of things happening beyond just Scott Westerhuis,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said [Kennecke, 2017.03.16].

The defense is arguing that A.G. Jackley is reaching too far in punishing anyone beyond those already dead for the gross abuse of GEAR UP funds. Some of us will argue that as long as Jackley looks no further than Platte, as long as Melody Schopp remains Secretary of Education in Pierre, A.G. Jackley isn’t reaching far enough.

Related: The Trump budget cuts GEAR UP by $102 million—32%—and limits funding to continuing grants already awarded.


  1. mike from iowa 2017-03-17 11:57

    OVERSIGHT. 6 South Dakotans might still be alive if someone-anyone had done their job and provided OVERSIGHT. The project monies might have been saved if someone-anyone did their job and provided OVERSIGHT. There would be no need to assess blame if someone-anyone had done their job and provided OVERSIGHT.

  2. Francis Schaffer 2017-03-17 14:25

    Does the board of Mid Central have a fiduciary responsibility to the members?

  3. Roger Elgersma 2017-03-18 12:11

    Republicans have blamed the dead guys to often. Jackley is doing right this time. With that much corruption, these people are saying that they are incompetent to miss so much corruption just because they are trusting. real poor excuse.

  4. Mark Winegar 2017-03-19 07:38

    I can assure you Mike Butler’s assertion that everyone trusted Scott & Nicole Westerhuis is wrong. I was there for a short time in the summer of 2001 on contract as an external evaluator and was immediately and repeatedly warned to stay clear of them.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-19 13:39

    Mark, I’d like to hear more about your experience there, as I’m sure our readers would. What did those repeated warnings consist of?

  6. Mark 2017-03-19 19:15

    Butler is right if this is a grand conspiracy like jackley claims. What would Guericke’s motive be? He is accused of taking no money he never tried to hide anything. There are board minutes to prove the so called backdated contracts are valid. So what would he be gaining in this ” conspiracy.” In my opinion jackley is trying to pave his way to the governorship by prosecuting innocent people. The dci even testified that they couldn’t find any evidence that Guericke or phelps knew anything about the embezzlement

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