Press "Enter" to skip to content

More Reversal on NBP/EB-5: Daugaard May Sue to Recoup $550K Benda Bonus

On January 16, 2014, Governor Dennis Daugaard asserted that Northern Beef Packers did nothing wrong in diverting $550,000 of a $1,000,000 state grant to Richard Benda and SDRC Inc. Attorney General Marty Jackley stunningly reversed that official position on July 29 when he told the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee that he prepared a warrant to arrest Benda for that diversion.

Apparently that reversal has been in the works for months, perhaps since before Governor Daugaard told us the grant diversion was kosher. David Montgomery reports that the state has hired attorney Paul Bachand to look into the viability of a lawsuit to recover that missing half-million:

Last month Bachand was given confidential documents prepared last year by criminal investigators. Under the special court order obtained with Attorney General Marty Jackley's consent, Bachand can review but not copy the investigation file and isn't allowed to disclose its contents to anyone other than Daugaard and other top state officials.

The trove of documents Bachand obtained includes witness interviews, emails and letters, bank statements, canceled checks, "evidence of wire transfers and other evidence of transfers of funds," Benda's credit card statements, receipts and cell phone records, and Northern Beef's private contracts, employment records, time sheets and other relevant records.

"It's a voluminous record," Venhuizen said. "I'm sure that's taking some time."

It's also taking some money. Bachand has billed the state $21,222.49 for work done since Nov. 1. Most of that money, Venhuizen said, relates to Bachand's study of the missing $550,000.

Bachand is billing the state at a rate of $155 per hour, meaning he's put in nearly 137 hours of work since November [David Montgomery, "Daugaard Trying to Get Back $550K Benda Allegedly Stole," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.22].

Bachand has been on the Northern Beef Packers–Benda money trail since November. If the state thought it might have grounds to try recovering the money Benda took from Mike Rounds's Future Fund Grant #1434, why would Governor Daugaard not have told us sooner? Was there really any downside to telling us from the start that Benda did wrong and that the state would do everything in its power to get those tax dollars back? Would announcing an aggressive state effort to recover its money have somehow fouled the sale of bankrupt Northern Beef Packers to White Oak?

Why Governor Daugaard would not have assured taxpayers from the get-go of his diligent prosecution of this wrong-doing perhaps pales in importance before the fact that his administration really is prosecuting. But if the Daugaard Administration had come clean from the start, it would not suffer now, just as the election season kicks into high gear, from the bad press of this curious reversal.


  1. jerry 2014.08.25

    Bachand is just doing the follow up to make sure all of the loose ends are tied up and that they do not lead to Daguaard. Basically, a dozen hours a week to dot the i's and cross the t's is all this is, nothing more than proof reading the scam. There was a feller in New Jersey that pulled the same crap, an obnoxious feller that has not a name but rhymes with Christie. His little trail of beers cost the state of New Jersey north of a million bucks to declare that this large skin tag of a feller was totally innocent. I wonder how much we South Dakota tax payers will continue to pay to show that our own arrogant man is "like totally innocent". This is just another fraud on top of a bigger fraud. Now if we had a federal attorney here with balls, I am sure he could get to the meat of the matter by utilizing a dozen hours a week to garner information.

  2. Tim 2014.08.25

    This reversal doesn't happen if democrats would have just been good little politicians and minded their own business, damn libs. I still think an eruption is coming, I think we would all choke if we knew how deep this goes, I just hope we have enough time to expose it before the election.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.25

    Notice the mention of the "trove of documents" Bachand is reviewing. If this trove includes documents that haven't already leaked out to this blog and other media, we can only hope the reversal continues and that Bachand and Daugaard will release all of those documents that will help us understand who knew what when at what happened to all the money that disappeared into Northern Beef Packers.

  4. Rorschach 2014.08.25

    There are no grounds to get the money back. The money was paid to Northern Beef as reimbursement for money already spent by Northern Beef. Northern Beef was free to do whatever it wanted with the money, although the State's (unenforceable) expectation was that it would be used to further complete the plant.

    Paul Bachand is Marty Jackley's former deputy attorney general. I'm not sure if he was the chief deputy, but he may have been. He was up there in the hierarchy of the office. He is a GOP insider. I don't know why he left the AG's office, but they are giving him a nice financial cushion as he transitions into the private sector. Whatever he's doing, we know that the governor and AG have long since acknowledged that the money is not recoverable. It's election season, and they want to look like they're doing something. Remember, this money was paid to Northern Beef in January 2011. The GOP administration has known about this for a long time, and taken no action. They were going to keep this all quiet and hope nobody found out. Now that it got out they have to look like they are on it.

  5. Cranky Old Dude 2014.08.25

    What a sack of crap! Are they telling us this state doesn't have any lawyers on the payroll? The whole thing sounds like another raid on the treasury by the bar association and a delaying action to get them through the election.

  6. JeniW 2014.08.25

    I have been wondering the "why now?"

    Something stinks in Pierre, and it is not the dead fish.

  7. Rorschach 2014.08.25

    I hope that the Susan Wismer campaign understands that EB-5 is not some silver bullet that will put them over the top. They should not become so distracted by EB-5 that they forget all of the other issues out there, although the continued bungling of this issue by the administration provides a good picture of how one-party government prioritized preservation of power above all else.

    Susan Wismer needs to remind people of the other issues, which I will not mention here but will to her campaign. She also needs to offer her own positive policy proposals, some of which I will also suggest to the campaign. It's not enough to be outraged by the cronyism, the lack of vision, and lack of accountability of the current administration. Susan Wismer needs to set out in concrete fashion what she will do and how she will do it when she gets to the big office and has to deal with a heavily Republican legislature. This isn't DC. We're not looking at gridlock if Susan Wismer is elected, but she has to have a realistic agenda that people on both sides of the aisle will buy into. Certainly as Charlie Hoffman suggests, the GOP legislature will find its long-lost spine, but they're by and large nice people who can be worked with.

  8. lesliengland 2014.08.25

    Rorschach, you are a republican?

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.25

    So R, the Bachand investigation and lawsuit threat are smoke and mirrors? I can see the legal argument that the state lost its claim to the money once it handed Benda the check to deliver to NBP.

    But I wonder: what if we could show that Benda's pocket was the intended destination of the money all along? What if we could show Rounds knew where that money was headed when he signed the grant in December 2010? Could we sue Mike Rounds to get that money back?

  10. David Newquist 2014.08.25

    Cranky raises an issue that ngpeople who deal with lawyers in the state question about the actual purpose and function of the Bar Association.

    In the past three years, Bachand's firm has been paid with as much as Benda is accused of appropriating through Northern Beef Packers: Bachand firm has been paid by the state $47,478 since the start of the fiscal year, July 1, $284.301 for FY 2014, and $460,085 for FY 2013. I repeat this from Mercer's article.

  11. lesliengland 2014.08.25

    47k to investigate a stack of documents is nothing. could be done in a month.

  12. 96 Tears 2014.08.25

    Going back to Sioux Falls attorney Steve Sandven's expensive fight to retrieve copies of documents on EB-5, the arrogance and obstructiveness of the GOP in Pierre has been on full display. Now, and only now, they appear to be backing off. But do not be fooled.

    Are you excited about this new "willingness" to invite Bollen to testify a month from now or to pay another Pierre insider to retrieve $550,000 that Daugaard was too willing to write off? If you think it will last beyond November 5th you must be smoking crack.

    These clowns knew about this scandal and its probable roll out weeks or months before anybody outside the Daugaard and Rounds inner circles were aware of any problems.

    All along, Team Daugaard and Team Rounds have had the luxury of knowing what happened, where the documents are stored, what happened to the money, who is upset for being screwed in these swindles, who benefited from the scam, who in the two governors' cabinets knew or should have known about transactions, and who may be on the hook in Aberdeen, Marshall County and elsewhere for liabilities.

    Remember, Marty Jackley told us 10 months ago that this was only about $5,000 of travel overcharges by Benda. He waited until July 29th to tell legislators that Benda was facing felony charges and a grand jury for stealing $550,000. Was that an oversight or a big fat lie?

    Nine months ago, Jackley told us Benda's shotgun death was a suicide, according to a secret report. On Aug. 19th, he walked that back: "I never said specifically it was a suicide. I said our findings are consistent with the cause and manner of death determined by the forensic pathologist," Jackley said (Mitchell Daily Republic, ). Another oversight?

    Cory, thank you for your diligence and for digging up and exposing the facts as they have been allowed to come out in drips and drabs. I think this thing is far larger in scope and liabilities than any of us can see. But I'll bet Daugaard, Rounds and Jackley have a pretty good idea of how big those liabilities will be when angry overseas investors take the state to court.

  13. mike fro iowa 2014.08.25

    Jackley made a claim last November that the case was closed and the state was not going to try to get the 550k back. What changed all that? Or are they just trying to rearrange the timeline of events to make themselves look less guilty?

  14. mike fro iowa 2014.08.25


    Paul E. Bachand
    Attorney in Pierre, SD
    Instructor, Legal Week, South Dakota Law Enforcement Academy, 1993-2002. Deputy State's Attorney: Brown County, 1992; Hughes County, 1993. Assistant Attorney General, South Dakota, 1993-2002. Assistant United States Attorney, Department of Justice, 2002-2004. View less

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.25

    Somebody is state government handed Benda a check for $1 million dollars, Benda diverted $550,000 for his personal use and now the state will exceed that amount to recover it.
    If the state can hire and sue to recover Benda theft, why can't they sue to recover the $450,000 donated to Northern Beef Packers. Did the state audit include how that grant money was spent and were there any stipulations and reporting requirements for that $450,000?
    Benda's death and theft are only a part a piece of the puzzle, every penny donated by the state to NBP and SDRC needs to be audited and investigated.
    The biggest piece of the EB-5 scandal is precisely how that $167 million of investor was spent or diverted.

  16. Rorschach 2014.08.25

    You think I'm a Republican, lesliengland? No I'm not. But I know some.

Comments are closed.