SD Supreme Court weighs unsealing documents in investigation of billionaire T. Denny Sanford

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 2:52 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Supreme Court is weighing whether to unseal a search warrant and affidavits in an investigation into billionaire banker-turned-philanthropist T. Denny Sanford for possible possession of child pornography.

Attorneys for the national media outlet ProPublica, and Sioux Falls Argus Leader argued that the records should be made publicly available, understanding that certain redactions would be necessary. However, attorney Marty Jackley argued that the records should not be released, given that Sanford was incorrectly listed as a defendant.

The court documents are sealed and refer to Sanford only as “an implicated individual.” Neither sides attorneys named Sanford as they made their arguments to the court Tuesday.

However, sources briefed on the case told Dakota News Now that the hearing involved Sanford and a legal effort to unseal court records in the investigation.

Worth over $2 billion dollars, Sanford is currently the richest man in South Dakota. Through his wealth and philanthropy efforts, the Sanford name has become synonymous with various brands and buildings across the region.

Last year, South Dakota investigators received information that an electronic device registered in Sanford’s name had sent, received, or downloaded child pornography. South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg determined that there was enough evidence to charge Sanford in the case, but opted to defer to federal prosecutors because the case spanned across many states.

No timetable has been determined as to when a decision in this case will be made.