New documents confirm billionaire T. Denny Sanford is the subject of a child pornography investigation

Court documents released Wednesday confirm that South Dakota’s richest man, Billionaire T. Denny Sanford, as the “individual involved” in a child pornography investigation that began in 2019.

Several media outlets have previously reported that Sanford is the subject of an investigation, starting with investigative reporting agency ProPublica, identify him in August 2020.

The official disclosure follows an October decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ordered search warrants related to the unsealed case. ProPublica and a local store, Leader of Argus, searched for their release.

Decided to give Sanford 20 days to file for a hearing.

Early Wednesday, the court released 285 pages of legal briefs and documents, which repeatedly identified Sanford’s name.

Sanford, 85, has not been charged. His attorney, former South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jackley previously said, “While we know very little about any federal or state investigation involving Mr. Sanford, we do know that the agencies responsible for investigating clear allegations did not find information or evidence to support or lead to any criminal charges.”

The legal investigation threatens to deal a major reputational blow to Sanford, who was previously considered a major philanthropist, both in South Dakota and the nation.

In 2007, when his net worth was estimated at $2.8 billion, he was already famous declare that he wants to “die again” by giving away all his money. Since then, he has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charities — most of which to his eponymous healthcare system, Sanford Health — but has grown even wealthier. Forbes pegged his current net worth at $3.4 billion.

Earlier this week, Sanford Health made headlines following reports that its former CEO, Kelby Krabbenhof, Paid over $49 million in 2020. Krabbenhoft has pushed into retirement that year after sending a letter to employees claiming he would not wear a mask to work, believing he could not transmit COVID-19 because he had previously contracted the virus.

Even after news of the child pornography investigation became public, Denny Sanford continued to raise cash. Sanford Health received a gift of $350 million from him in September, and public records reveal that he gave $1 million to Super PACs, Americans for Prosperity, under Koch, over the summer.

The Super PAC has not responded to many requests from The Daily Beast over the past few months.

Sanford’s legal problems began in December 2019, when a law enforcement official requested a search warrant related to his email account.

The following spring, South Dakota’s Criminal Investigation Division sought four additional warrants relating to Sanford’s internet and cell phone providers, all of which were issued by the court. The search warrants themselves were not immediately posted on Wednesday but are expected to be published later in the day.

State agents thought they had enough evidence to charge Sanford but referred the case to federal authorities because the alleged activity took place across multiple states.

Related press report in August that South Dakota could still charge Sanford if the Justice Department didn’t count.

It remains to be seen whether that will happen. | New documents confirm billionaire T. Denny Sanford is the subject of a child pornography investigation


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