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Billionaire Denny Sanford is off the hook on a child porn probe

SIOUX FALLS — Billionaire Denny Sanford, South Dakota’s richest man, is off the hook in a long-running child porn investigation after the state’s assistant attorney general found Friday that he had “no criminal offenses.” The banker and philanthropist has been the focus of an investigation since the summer of 2020 after investigative news outlet ProPublica reported that Sanford was under legal scrutiny on suspicion of possessing and distributing sexual content involving children.

On Friday, as the long Memorial Day weekend began and few people were following the news, South Dakota Assistant Attorney General Brent Kempema said “there are no criminal offenses within the jurisdiction of the state of South Dakota.”

Kempema said the South Dakota CID has closed its investigation into Sanford. South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is not currently involved as he was charged with a fatal car accident in 2020 and is suspended from duty pending a June 21-22 Senate trial.

Sanford attorney Marty Jackley, a former South Dakota attorney general who is seeking a return to the office, said his client was pleased with the statement from the South Dakota attorney general’s office.

“Mr. Sanford appreciates the public confirmation from the Office of the Attorney General of SD that the DCI has completed its investigation and found no criminal offense,” Jackley told The Daily Beast.

Judge Power said in an email that the affidavits leading to the issuance of the search warrants would be released Tuesday. They were withheld from the public and the media.

“Based on our earlier hearings, I would expect the affidavits in support of search warrants to be unsealed sometime Tuesday,” Power said.

However, Stacey Hegge, another Sanford attorney, quickly offered a motion to delay the release, according to a Sioux Falls Argus leader Report.

The case has been in the news in South Dakota for two years because Sanford, 86, is the state’s richest man and has his name emblazoned everywhere. For two decades, the Sanford name has been added to hospitals, clinics, laboratories, stadiums, ball fields and more. Large statues of him, some with children, dot the landscape in Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city. He has been the subject of numerous media reports detailing his massive donations.

But the headlines and TV coverage weren’t so positive after ProPublica broke the news on August 28, 2020 that Sanford was at the center of a child pornography investigation.

In December 2019 and March 2020, five search warrants seeking information from emails, web logs, and phone records were approved by Circuit Court Judge James Power for Minnehaha County, SD, and supported Sanford, Midcontinent Communications, its ISP, and Verizon, his cell phone, delivered to phone company.

Investigators wanted to know about the events of June 27, 2019, as well as phone calls, messages, and location data from that day and two more. Sanford was not named in publicly available documents that identified him as an “involved person” through November 2021.

In 2020, Ravnsborg chose not to press charges, but the state-run DCI continued its investigation.

Ravnsborg said the investigation also included Arizona, California and Nebraska. Sanford has homes in Sioux Falls, Scottsdale, Arizona and Vail, Colorado.

Jackley declined to say whether investigations in the other states will also be closed without charges.

“You would have to ask that question to the attorney general,” he told The Daily Beast.

Sanford, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, made billions through his companies First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard, which offered high-yield credit cards to people with low credit scores.

He started his business in the late 1950s at Armstrong Cork Co. as Sales and Marketing Director. In 1960 he founded a manufacturing company that promoted technical building products by architects and engineers.

In 1971 he bought Contech, a chemical company, from Sears, Roebuck, and took it public for $5 a share. A decade later, he sold it for $35 a share and formed Threshold Ventures, a venture capital firm.

When South Dakota, eager for investment and new businesses, relaxed interest rate limits to allow banks to charge, Sanford bought the United National Bank of Sioux Falls, later renamed it First Premier Bank, and began lending to people who had no sterling credit reports. Interest rates were high, so were profits.

In 2002 he co-founded First Premier Capital in Minneapolis. Sanford had become a very wealthy man, and he vowed to give the money away before he died. He didn’t, and his net worth is now estimated at $3.4 billion.

During his lifetime, however, Sanford donated more than $2 billion to a variety of organizations and causes, and associated his name with health facilities, stadiums, and the science lab at the former gold mine.

In 2016, he told the AP he wanted to help people in their final years rather than just indulge in his wealth.

“You can only have so many cars and all those things, so put it into something that you can change people’s lives in,” Sanford said.

Sanford is the namesake of the Sanford Underground Research Facility, known as the Sanford Lab, in Lead. He donated $70 million, a sum matched by the state of South Dakota, to convert the former Homestake gold mine into a laboratory for sensitive physics experiments free from the sun’s high-energy cosmic rays. Researchers are also studying geology, biology and engineering at the site, which was dedicated in 2007 by Sanford and the then governor. Mike Rounds, who is now a US Senator.

Sanford received praise and support from politicians to whom he had donated, including Rounds, Senator John Thune, and other candidates and campaign committees, all Republican or conservative.

He had a major healthcare organization – formerly Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System – changed to his name. Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, was a special project for Sanford.

He has given more than $1 billion to the organization, including a $400 million gift in 2007 that led to the name change, $100 million to start a breast cancer foundation named after his mother, Edith who died of the disease when he was 4 years old. and $125 million for creating his Imagenetics program. It has raised an additional $650 million over the last year.

The University of South Dakota School of Medicine changed its name to the Sanford School of Medicine in 2006. Large donations to the Mayo Clinic and Bethesda Hospital in his hometown of St. Paul also resulted in facilities bearing his name.

He has donated $20 million to the still-unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills, $30 million to Dakota State University to build Madison Cyber ​​Labs, $30 million to the San Diego Zoo, and another $30 million to the Horatio Alger Fund for College Scholarships.

Sport was also an interest, and he offered the University of Minnesota $35 million for the naming rights to their new football stadium. That deal fell through, however, but Sanford, a 1958 UM graduate, still donated $12 million to TCF Bank Stadium, which named its Hall of Fame in his honor.

The Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls includes the Sanford Pentagon with multiple basketball courts and offices, the Sanford Fieldhouse, athletic academies, training facilities and more, with new baseball, softball and soccer fields being built.

Sanford was an avid golfer at Westward Ho Country Club, now called the Country Club of Sioux Falls. A professional golf event, the Sanford International, draws the world’s top senior golfers to Minnehaha Country Club each year and receives some national media attention. Despite the negative publicity, well-known golfers continued to attend the event in 2020 and 2021.

The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is a 12,000 seat multipurpose facility that hosts sporting events, concerts, conventions, conventions, banquets and more. His name is omnipresent in Sioux Falls and throughout the state.

Not all of his donations resulted in the addition of his name. Sanford has given $500 million to National University, and the San Diego-based school announced plans to change its name to Sanford National University.

But after the child pornography reports surfaced, that suggestion was dropped.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/billionaire-denny-sanford-is-off-the-hook-in-child-porn-probe?source=articles&via=rss Billionaire Denny Sanford is off the hook on a child porn probe

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