SD Attorney General

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakotans can now report tips about illegal drugs through text messages. Project Stand Up is a statewide campaign that collects anonymous tips about drug crime. Authorities say the program is part enforcement and part deterrent.

With one word and five numbers, people who suspect illegal drug activity can report it. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says cell phone users text "drugs" to 82257.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Paul Dean Jensen spent 20 years in prison, serving life without parole for a murder he committed in 1996 at the age of 14. In June, a judge reconsidered that penalty and imposed a 200 year sentence, with parole eligibility in 2021.

Now Jensen is appealing that second sentence. He says the sentencing judge abdicated his responsibilities to the parole board.

The South Dakota Supreme Court will consider this case on briefs during its March term. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Pierre man is alive because first responders used a medication to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. Officials credit the drug Narcan for saving the man’s life.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says emergency crews responded to a call in Pierre Monday night for a man who needed medical attention.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Three people connected to the GEAR UP program and Mid-Central Education Cooperative have been arraigned on accusations of fraud and financial crimes. Stacy Phelps, Dan Guericke, and Stephanie Hubers each pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Lake Andes.

Marty Jackley is South Dakota’s Attorney General.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A grand jury has indicted three people for felony crimes related to a Native American education program. State leaders say people within GEAR UP and Mid-Central Education Cooperative used the programs to steal more than one million dollars. Two of them died in a murder-suicide in September. Authorities announced charges against three other leaders last month.  

Former EB5 Leader Faces Felony Charges

Mar 31, 2016

A man who spearheaded South Dakota’s efforts to attract international investors to the state faces felony charges. Joop Bollen is accused of disposing of personal property subject to security interest.

The federal EB5 program offers visas to people from other countries in exchange for $500,000 investments in American businesses. Bollen ran the effort at the International Business Institute at Northern State University in Aberdeen. Then in 2009 the program switched to private administration through Bollen’s company, SDRC, Inc.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The attorney for one of the people charged with felonies related to the Mid Central Education Cooperative in Platte says the state is using his client as a scapegoat. The investigation involves crimes connected to Mid Central and a program called GEAR UP.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Three people involved with an education cooperative that contracted with state government face criminal charges. South Dakota’s attorney general announced charges of falsifying evidence, conspiracy, and grand theft related to Mid Central Education Cooperative.

Mid Central Education Cooperative gained statewide attention in September when one of its leaders died violently. An investigation revealed that Scott Westerhuis killed his wife and four children before lighting the family home on fire and shooting himself.

Photo courtesy of Graves Garrett LLC

In November, South Dakota voters will consider whether the interest charged by short-term lenders should be capped at 36 percent. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday, Feb. 16, challenging an Attorney General's explanation of that ballot initiative. Opponents say the explanation fails to point out that the initiative kills off payday loans, title loans, and some car loans.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Investigators are trying to piece together factors that left a family of six dead in a murder-suicide. Fire engulfed a home near Platte one week ago, and responders found six bodies inside. Preliminary autopsy results show Nicole Westerhuis and four children died of shotgun wounds. Authorities suspect husband and father Scott Westerhuis killed them before shooting himself.

Scott Westerhuis was business manager for an organization called Mid Central Education Cooperative. Recent audits reveal financial issues with grant money that funnels to the group.

South Dakota authorities say four children and their mother found dead in a house fire last week are homicide victims. Attorney General Marty Jackley says preliminary autopsy results show Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor, and Michael Westerhuis died of shotgun wounds.

Officials say the sixth person dead is husband and father Scott Westerhuis. He also died of a shotgun wound, and authorities suspect suicide.

On September 17th flames engulfed a home just south of Platte, South Dakota. After first responders put out the fire, officials found a family of six dead.

SD Attorney General's Office

The National Association of Attorneys General has a new president. It’s Marty Jackley. South Dakota’s AG now leads the group of people from all 50 states, Washington, DC and United States territories. Members held the election at this week’s annual conference.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says he already has the priority for his year-long leadership: policing in the 21st century.

A weekend shooting left one man dead and another person in custody for manslaughter. Saturday night 32-year-old Leon Paulson died after he was shot.

Authorities say 22-year-old Brady Hooker is accused of shooting and killing a man at his home in Lemmon, South Dakota during an argument that escalated. Hooker faces first-degree manslaughter.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says the difference between murder and manslaughter charges mainly applies to intent.

Six men face felony charges for soliciting sex with children. A sting operation based in Sioux Falls targeted potential predators.

The state’s division of criminal investigation worked with city and county law enforcement on Thursday Friday and Saturday on a sex trafficking investigation. They posted ads online selling sex with children, and six men showed up for a meeting. They range in age from 25 to 35.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says two of the men charged are from Sioux Falls, three live in Iowa, and one is from Guatemala.