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Jackley Considered Arresting Benda for $550K Future Fund Diversion

In November 2013, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley staked out the public position that there was no prosecutable violation of state law that justified his taking action against Northern Beef Packers, SDRC Inc., Joop Bollen, or anyone else to recover $550,000 diverted from Future Fund Grant #1434. Last January, Governor Dennis Daugaard upheld that position in an interview on SDPB Radio.

But in October 2013, Attorney General Jackley prepared an arrest warrant for Richard Benda for his diversion of that grant money. The state of South Dakota was prepared to arrest the former state economic development chief for aggravated grand theft for his misappropriation of that big chunk of Future Fund Grant #1434. Here's the relevant text:


AGGRAVATED GRAND THEFT BY EMBEZZLEMENT, in violation of SDCL 22-30A-2, 22-30A-10, and 22-30A-17.1, a Class 3 felony, in that, with intent to defraud, he appropriated money belonging to the State of South Dakota entrusted to him to a use and purpose not in the due and lawful execution of his trust, to wit: Richard L. Benda obtained $550,000 in state funds by diverting economic development grant funds intended for the benefit of Northern Beef Packers, LP to his own use and purpose; or in the alternative


AGGRAVATED THEFT BY DECEPTION, in violation of 22-20A-3(1) and 22-30A-17.1, a class 3 felony, in that, with the intent to defraud, he obtained the property of another by deception by creating or reinforcing a false impression, to wit: Richard L. Benda obtained $550,000 from Northern Beef Packers, LP by creating the false impression that he had the authority to withhold $1,000,000 in grant funds due to Northern Beef Packers, LP unless $550,000 of those funds were paid to Richard L. Benda through South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. for loan monitoring services not yet rendered; or in the alternative


AGGRAVATED GRAND THEFT BY THREAT in violation of SDCL 22-30A-2, 22-30A-4(4), and 22-30A-17.1, a Class 3 felony, in that he did obtain property of another by threatening to take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action, to wit: between December 28, 2010, and Janaury 26, 2011, Richard L. Benda, while holding himself out as an official or as a person who could cause an official to take or withhold action, did obtain $550,000 from Northern Beef Packers, LP by threatening to cause harm to Northern Beef Packers, LP by withholding $1,000,000 in grant funds from Northern Beef Packers, LP unless $550,000 of those funds were paid to him through South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. for loan monitoring services not yet rendered;


GRAND THEFT in violation of SDCL 22-30A-2 and 22-30A-17(1), a Class 3 felony, in that, with the intent to benefit himself, he transfered [sic] property of the State of South Dakota to himself, though he was not entitled thereto, to wit: Richard L. Benda, between December 14, 2009, and on or about April 16, 2010, did obtain from the State of South Dakota the sums of $982.90, $3,740.60, and $836.30 to which he was not entitled by preparing and filing duplicate vouchers for reimbursement for these travel expenses despite having earlier received reimbursement for these same expenses from the State of South Dakota;

All contrary to the statutes in such case made and provided against the peace and dignity of the State of South Dakota [Attorney General Marty Jackley, arrest warrant for Richard L. Benda, prepared October 2013 but never served, released to Government Operations and Audit Committee, South Dakota Legislature, 2014.07.29].

Class 3 felony—that's up to 15 years in the pen and a $30,000 fine.

Attorney General Jackley released this draft arrest warrant this morning. Bob Mercer reports Jackley prepared these charges on October 8. On October 11, the attorney general scheduled a grand jury to convene on October 28 to hear evidence on Benda's activities. Benda died October 20; an in-law discovered Benda's body and reported it to authorities on October 22. The arrest warrant was never served, the grand jury never convened, and Jackley ruled Benda's death suicide on November 22.

The second count relates to travel vouchers that Benda double-billed to the state. State officials have relatively consistently stated that violation mattered and that the state ought to get that money back.

But sometime between October and November, the state shifted its thinking on Benda's much larger money grab. Instead of looking for a way to return Benda's ill-gotten gains to state coffers, the state decided to wave its hands, mutter something about EB-5 being a federal program, and close the investigation.

Related: Following Jackley's disclosure of the draft Benda warrant to the Government Operations and Audit Committee and a closed-door discussion of legal matters, Rep. Susan Wismer (D-1/Britton) moved to subpoena Joop Bollen, who ran SDRC, Inc., the private company mentioned in the draft warrant. One might think that Bollen could shed some light on what his loan monitor Benda did with the money that the state thought, if briefly, had been stolen. Not wanting to shed such light, no one on the committee seconded Wismer's motion.

Odd: AG Jackley says he never interviewed Benda during the 2013 investigation, but he told GOAC today that his office did question Bollen. The attorney general thought Bollen was worth talking to, but the Republicans on GOAC do not.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.07.29

    Marty jumping sinking ship by this discovery? His actions reek of cover up and obstruction of justice.

  2. larry kurtz 2014.07.29

    Can Marty be given federal immunity for ratting on his co-conspirators?

  3. 96 Tears 2014.07.29

    The timeline and activities allowed to come to light today for the first time made me wonder how Richard Benda knew he would be arrested on a felony and forced to blab to a grand jury (keep in mind the federal investigation had been running before and since Jackley's farce of an investigation). Who may have tipped him off, Jackley? If so, why?

  4. 96 Tears 2014.07.29

    How could Mike Rounds be ignorant of any of this?

    Today the administration said 967 foreign investors were approved for South Dakota projects and that $650 million was raised through EB-5 for South Dakota projects (from Bob Mercer's Pure Pierre Politics).

    It's impossible to believe Mike Rounds was not clued into $650 million of investments in his pet projects and didn't know who or how that money changed hands. There's a big difference between $9 million he hopes to raise to buy a U.S. Senate seat and a $650 million slush fund to fill the pockets of his pals.

  5. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.29

    If Jackley had done his job at the time, Benda would likely be alive today.
    The question I have is why did Marty immediately arrest Benda? It is common to make an arrest while an impending grand jury is to be sworn and seated.
    We also need to go one step back in the process of this investigation, who in the DCI interviewed and investigated Benda? Shouldn't there be DCI reports?

    Note: Cory, please don't let these all important discussions on this scandal degenerate into a mindless Battle of the Bibles, as so many recent threads have become. Thank you.

  6. Lynn 2014.07.29

    Supposedly Rounds is known to be a micro-manager. Regardless it happened under his watch and he is ultimately responsible. As Truman said "The Buck stops here!"

  7. 96 Tears 2014.07.29

    Good request, Roger. It's interesting to also note that the first time anyone outside the Republican power structure in Pierre knew that felony charges were under way was today. Imagine what Stace Nelson could have done back in May if this important fact had been allowed to see the light of day.

    Running down the clock.

  8. lesliengland 2014.07.29

    so is there a fed investigation looking for the money and jackley finally cleared the air for his election?

  9. Lora Hubbel 2014.07.29

    Benda was found dead October 22, I believe. Before I accept Jackley's "I was going to arrest Benda" story, maybe we should get a verifiable October date of October 21 or earlier that month which proves it. I mean like a notarized document (not notarized by Gosch), or like an state email verifying

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.07.29

    Benda died on October 20. Governor Daugaard said his body was found on October 22.

  11. Lynn 2014.07.29

    Roger this EB-5 cover up scandal is the highest priority subject for me.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.07.29

    Roger, there's a heavy thought for Jackley. Daugaard has said the stress of the GOED/EB-5 situation led to Benda's suicide. If Jackley had the goods, why wait? Why give Benda a chance to skip town (and remember, he was a world traveler)?

    Anyone care to get grim and speculate? Hindsight makes accident look like plan, but maybe... well, how plausible is it that the threat of 15 years in the pen would drive Richard Benda to suicide? Plausible enough that the EB-5 string-pullers might have banked on it? Why hire a Chinese hit man if you could get Benda to do the job himself?

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.29

    That is great, keep pushing the buttons and asking questions.
    The GOED should be the highest priority for all South Dakotans, but Democrats running for office have an obligation to inform voters of this very public and ongoing blatant cover up.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.29

    Cory, somewhere back in all your threads on this scandal, I do believe either you or a Madville regular suggested that Benda might have been pressured into suicide.
    Benda was backed into a corner and likely saw no way out, it is possible that all the operatives in this drama knew what pressures to apply for satisfactory result.
    This is not to say that I am in way discounting a hit on Benda, given the evidence we have, it just looks like a hit.

  15. mike from iowa 2014.07.29

    Maybe Jackley can be arrested for impersonating the state's top law enforcement officer or taking money for not doing his job or something.

  16. 96 Tears 2014.07.29

    Imagine if the Democrats had the ability to have fielded a candidate for Attorney General last month. Imagine how having a competent Democratic challenger to Jackley would have changed the dynamics of this election, given today's game-changing admission by Marty Jackley.

    Jackley's admission that he publicly lied about the criminal nature of the EB-5 case could have been the hammer to defeat Rounds, Daugaard and Jackley as well as the legislators who've been part of the coverup attempts.

  17. Bill Dithmer 2014.07.29

    96 tears, the only way that the GOP would let one of those people go to prison is if they got caught with a young girl and this happened.

    From Wild Bill Napoli himself, "A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

    Now substitute the the state of SD for the girl. If corporations are people a state must be to. These people are raping our state.

    A real-life description would be the state, brutally raped, savaged and sodomized by the state of Texas. The state was a virgin saving itself for marriage to North Dakota but it was impregnated and could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, from carrying that Texas sperm around that it could very well threaten her life.

    " Jackley's admission that he publicly lied about the criminal nature of the EB-5 case could have been the hammer to defeat Rounds, Daugaard and Jackley as well as the legislators who've been part of the coverup attempts."

    Not likely

    The Blindman

  18. Tim 2014.07.29

    I said in a post here quite a while ago, they will blame the dead man, can't help but wonder how far Jackley will go to protect Rounds and Daugaard.

  19. mike from iowa 2014.07.29

    Give a wingnut special prosecutor subpoena and immunity powers and he/she will start at the top and immunize everyone down to Benda and accuse the dead guy of being solely responsible for the whole mess.

  20. 96 Tears 2014.07.29

    Cory, regarding the grim possibility you had posed, I wonder if there is a telephone log of communications between Jackley's office and Benda and how frequent those communications had been and whether there is evidence Benda had been harassed into a panic. No doubt he possessed very valuable information which would have been made public had he been charged and put on trial for felonies. I also wonder if the feds had also been in touch with Benda on similar topics last fall and what was in the scope of their investigation. Was Benda being offered a plea deal with the feds?

    You can bet that Jackley was operating to steer the federal investigation out of harm's way for Rounds and Daugaard. We won't know for a while what the older and larger investigation was doing while Jackley was out there fiddling about.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.07.29

    96, maybe the Democrats should get behind a viable candidate, enter into talks with the Libertarians, and offer a "fusion" candidate for AG, someone with legal cred as well as the ability to explain to people exactly why the EB-5 stonewalling (not the conspiracy theories) is a dereliction of duty by the AG and state government as a whole.

    Of course, if such a candidate existed, I suppose the SDDP would have scrounged her or him up in time for the June convention.

  22. charlie5150 2014.07.29

    How is this not insulting to our media? Eight months later, as a diversionary tactic, this rather bland tidbit is revealed and reported as "news"? Where are the "journalists"? Why is Grandpa sending all his money to Nigeria?

  23. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.29

    Joop Bollen has just released a sound of relief, hopefully it's temporary and the feds are breathing down his neck.

    If I were Joop, I would be very afraid of shotguns and shelter belts. Joop needs to know that twigs can be lethal.

  24. Robert J. Cordts 2014.07.30

    What did Jackley and the administration know and when did they know it? (I am not sure Jackley is familiar with that Howard Baker phrase). Why wasn't Jackley more forthcoming in November? I understand the respect for the Benda family concerns but that doesn't excuse Jackley for the deception and misinformation given to the public over the last eight months. Do these guys ever listen to themselves speak?

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