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EB-5 Side Note: SDIBI Secretary Cherri Brick Quit NSU to Work for Bollen in Feb 2011

A mystery woman appears in the EB-5 scandal. Her name is Brick. Cherri Brick.

Brick was Joop Bollen's secretary at the South Dakota International Business Institute. In March 2009, right next to declarations from her boss, from the Regents' counsel and Regents' exec, and the attorney general himself, Brick had to file a declaration as part of the Regents' effort to pull its fat out the litigatory fire into which Bollen had gotten them in Darley v SDIBI.

Brick's succinct declaration remarkably alleges that someone forged her name on a proof of service:

I have reviewed a proof of service that was filed in the above-captioned action on September 30, 2008. It appears as Page 2 of 3 on Document 13 of the Court's electronically-filed documents. The document contains two typewritten misspellings of my name as "Cherry" Brick and even contains a signature that appears to misspell my first name. The signature is not mine. I never saw or signed this document, nor did I ever serve the documents refrenced therein. I did not authorize any person to sign this document in my name [Cherri Brick, declaration, Darley v SDIBI, 2009.03.20].

It's Cherri, with an i. Get it right.

Brick's statement was an important brick in the Regents' main defense against Darley's lawsuit, that Darley had failed to serve the proper authorities (i.e., Attorney General Larry Long and Governor Mike Rounds), thus mootifying their whole suit.

Brick cleared her head with a few long bike rides and went quietly back to work. She kept answering the mail and the phones at SDIBI, even after her boss quit on December 21, 2009, and even after the Regents axed the SDIBI director position from its budget in 2010.

Then in February 2011, she quits. According to an invoice submitted by Garcia Calderón Ruíz on March 3, 2011, Brick resigned to go work for Bollen at SDRC Inc., the private company Bollen formed to turn his state duties into a profit center and to shield himself from suits like Darley's over the state's EB-5 program.

James Lynch, invoice #4561, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.03.03, excerpt, p. 2
James Lynch, invoice #4561, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.03.03, excerpt, p. 2

Brick's job change was apparently significant enough to draw attention from the Regents' hired California lawyer James Lynch, Northern State attorney John Meyer, Regents' chief counsel James Shekleton, and Governor's Office of Economic Development attorney Tim Engel. They discussed Brick's job change in March, too, trying to figure out "possible reasons" for her resignation.

James Lynch, Invoice #4660, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.04.28, excerpt, p. 2
James Lynch, Invoice #4660, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.04.28, excerpt, p. 2
James Lynch, Invoice #4660, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.04.28, excerpt, p. 3
James Lynch, Invoice #4660, Garcia Calderón Ruíz, 2011.04.28, excerpt, p. 3

The GCR invoices do not indicate what reasons the lawyers might have divined for Brick's jump to Bollen's ship.

But consider this: in June and July 2010, GCR invoices show that Lynch and Engel were discussing GOED Secretary Richard Benda's availability for the pending arbitration. Six months later, in January 2011, Benda had engineered his exit to Bollen's SDRC Inc., with $550,000 in hand from Governor Mike Rounds's Future Fund Grant #1434. $450,000 covered his salary as "loan monitor" at SDRC Inc. As far as I know, the remaining $100,000 has not been accounted for.

But then in February 2011, Cherri Brick walked back in Joop Bollen's door. Along with Benda, she was now out from under the state's authority and directly financially obligated to the man most interested in keeping everything EB-5 quiet.


  1. Joseph.Voigt 2014.09.30

    Has anyone tried to contact her?

  2. Bill Fleming 2014.09.30

    Interesting take on this by Mercer here. 1/3 of the voters still don't know what EB-5 is. To be sure, the story is important, whether it affects the election or not. That said, the key to Dems prevailing in this year's election may have more to do with a strong GOTV effort than it does further elucidation on EB-5, or maybe a combination of both. I suspect the heavy GOP spending this season will be on the ground, getting Republicans to the ballot box. If we don't do the same or better, we lose.

    Remember, it never was a level playing field. Dems start out 10 points behind. The fact that Rick is only showing a little over 71% of his support coming from his own party is unacceptable. It's time for SD Dems to decide whether they want to have a political party or not. Remember, the purpose of a political party is to win elections. Period.

  3. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    cheri's bike ride is not so long; if i'm not mistaken, rapid city's bike path from the fish hatchery to the southside softball fields and back is the same distance. many here ride that daily.

  4. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    sorry, dumb post, I think its half that. its been 15 years or so.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.30

    Bill, I agree that at this point, the minutiae of EB-5 are not worth a Democratic ad buy. Rick should hit the general points in the debates, and ads should focus on the highlights:

    (1) Rounds said he didn't know about Bollen's monkeyshines, Rounds had to know, Rounds is lying.

    (2) Rounds backed Northern Beef Packers. NBP failed miserably. Rounds backs bad policy.

    And then GOTV, GOTV, GOEFV.

    But since I'm not working at SDDP HQ, I'm more than happy to continue expanding the narrative so that when we do need all the details, I've got them right here.

    Besides, how can I not write a story about a mystery woman named Cherri Brick? It's Mike Hammer time!

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.30

    (Whatever the legnth, Leslie, it's one thing to ride a long bike trail through the comfy urban environs of Rapid City. It's another to ride 21 miles out in the flat wide open of the Jim River Valley.)

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.09.30

    No slight on your efforts Cory. Your work on the EB-5 problem has been exemplary and essential. And it is probably driving GOP votes to Pressler. We Dems have a better alternative in Rick Weiland. Let's be clear. A Pressler vote is a credible alternative for Republicans to vote for someone other than Rounds. So is Gordon Howie. But they will be doing so because they don't want Mr. Rounds to win.

    And as per Mercer's analysis, Pressler almost certainly prevail.

    So, the only way Dems can be sure the majority gets to win is to stay strong with Rick Weiland. Republicans have three choices for Senator this year. We Dems have one.

  8. Bill Fleming 2014.09.30

    Sorry, above should read: "And as per Mercer's analysis, Pressler almost certainly CAN'T prevail."

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.30

    You make some really great points, the 1/3 of voters that don't know about EB-5 is alarming.
    I have also found that a large number of voters that know about EB-5 don't fully understand the RICO status of the Rounds Scandal.
    It is not sure to me whether this is willful ignorance or extreme party loyalty, this is Republican South Dakota and I suspect latter.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.09.30

    Roger, it's complicated. People don't like complicated. If you ever want to protect yourself from political attack, confuse the issue. Make it as complicated as possible.

  11. Joseph.Voigt 2014.09.30

    I'd attack NBP, say Rounds had this idea of a Beef Packing Plant, though most thought it would be hard, put Bollen in charge after getting in trouble of the money, helped recruit outside investors, watched over as more offshore shady money came in, and at the end a closed beef plant, local vendors and contractors not paid, while Rounds gets to run for Senate and Bollen is allowed to stay quiet.

    EB-5 in confusing, but NBP, local contractors not being paid, isn't.

    Find a local contractor who is out big money, to say, hey the state of South Dakota was behind this, Mike Rounds was behind this, and now I'm broke because of it.

  12. Joseph.Voigt 2014.09.30

    Don't be worried about Pressler, historically what happens when you have 3 notable candidates is.

    a. frontrunner b. second c. 3rd

    Frontrunner attacks, 3rd party grows

    But before the election 3rd party voters realize that they aren't going to win, and peel away, also generally terrible get out the vote ground game.

    Most of them end up either supporting 1 or 2, continue attacking Rounds and yes Presslers numbers will go up, but at the voting box, most will not vote for him.

  13. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    well cory, of course when the james is flooding! sorry again.

  14. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    well, too, this has been a good civics lesson on lawyers' billing records. is arbitration finished, I would think the regents would not be so silly as to release such confidential records potentially exposing legal strategy? they must want to change the story being told, by releasing them to rep. tyler, was it? was this duffy's thinking?

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.30

    Leslie, I've ridden both the bike path in RC and all around Aberdeen when I was in college. Here in Minn I've ridden many bike paths and many streets, plus some roads out of town. Even in 2007, when I was part of a fundraising bike ride from Minneapolis to Chicago, the chunks of bike path were definitely easier.

    I'll take 40 miles of bike path over 30 miles of country roads. Weather is chiefly relevant in terms of wind. (I ride very little now. I've gotten too rickety. Arthritis.)

  16. grudznick 2014.09.30

    Ms. Geelsdottir, you are every man's idea of what should happen when that man builds a mile of bike path with taxpayer dollars. You are exactly what that was for.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.01

    Umm, thanks? I think? I'm confused, but assuming good intentions. After, it is my friend Grudz I'm replying to.

  18. Jane Smith 2014.10.01

    Extreme party loyalty means that they do not understand the Pledge of Aligence. One Nation, does not mean one party. The acts these people (Rounds and Bollen ) perpetrated using the EB-5 program was to serve themselves at the cost of pain and suffering of other citizens. All parties should demand justice! Greed and fraud does not use party stance to select its victims.

  19. mike from iowa 2014.10.01

    Methinks Mickey Spillane would have a time trying to slip a Cheri Brick character past the editors in a Mike Hammer novel,at least before he headed for the detective agency in the sky.

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