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Crime & Courts

T. Denny Sanford named as 'Implicated Individual'

96521e5cb0_T Denny Sanford MPR1991.jpg
MPR

Court documents unsealed on Wednesday, Nov. 17, have confirmed that Thomas Denny Sanford is the subject of five search warrants obtained by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation in 2019.

Sanford is better known as T. Denny Sanford, a South Dakota billionaire. Identified only as “Implicated Individual,” he appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court in August to keep his identity hidden. But the high court upheld a Second Circuit ruling that search warrants are public information.

The identity of “Implicated Individual” has not been a well-kept secret. ProPublica broke a story in August 2020 naming T. Denny Sanford as the subject of five search warrants. ProPublica identified the source of that information as four anonymous individuals.

Now Sanford ’s name has been made public, but the reason the warrants were requested has still not been confirmed with solid documentation.

That information would be found in affidavits filed with the request for warrants, but under state law, those affidavits can remain sealed until the investigation is closed or an indictment has been filed. That is the case with the Sanford warrants. Affidavits will remain sealed, at least for now.

The investigative agency that obtained the search warrants, DCI, is a division of the state attorney general’s office. And so it is ultimately up to the attorney general to declare the investigation closed or to prosecute Sanford on charges.

The current attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, has declined to confirm or deny that the investigation is still active. In October he issued a press release saying he disagrees with news accounts of statements attributed to his office.

T. Denny Sanford’s lawyer is former Attorney General Marty Jackley, who gave up his office in 2018 to enter the race for governor. He was defeated in the primary election by Kristi Noem. Now Jackley has announced his intention to run for attorney general in 2022.

As Sanford ’s lawyer, Jackley tried to amend the search warrant applications filed with the court, which list Sanford as “Defendant.” Jackley pointed out to the Supreme Court at oral arguments in August that Sanford is not a defendant, as he has not been charged with a crime even though the investigation was launched almost two years ago.