UNITED STATES NEWS

Court unseals search warrant affidavits in Sanford probe

Apr 27, 2023, 5:33 PM

Investigators found that images of nude underage girls were transmitted on an email account they linked to billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, documents unsealed Thursday showed, but they were unable to prove who sent them or where that person was at the time.

Sanford’s attorney said in a statement that the newly released documents contain only allegations and “various individuals had documented access to the electronic devices at issue, including signs of hacking.”

Sanford, South Dakota’s richest man, was not charged after the state attorney general’s office said its investigation into child pornography allegations found no prosecutable offenses within its jurisdiction.

Sanford’s attorneys fought to keep the affidavits used to issue search warrants sealed, but the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and ProPublica argued they should be made public and the state Supreme Court ruled this month that they would be unsealed.

Sanford has given billions to hospitals, universities and charities, and the Sanford Health system is named for him. He made his fortune as the founder of First Premier Bank in South Dakota, which is known for issuing high-interest credit cards to peple with poor credit.

According to the affidavits, investigators searched Sanford’s email account and cell and internet service providers for evidence of possession of child pornography in 2019, after his accounts were flagged by a technology firm.

In the affidavits, a special agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation wrote that several images of nude underage girls were sent via email over three days in May and June 2019. The age of the youngest was estimated at 8 to 12 years.

The account was believed to belong to Sanford because things like his driver’s license and a receipt from a hotel stay that included his name were sent from it.

Beyond questions his attorney raised about whether Sanford was always in possession of the phone and email account, the agent wrote in the affidavit that he was unable to determine the location of the individual who was accessing and using the email account on those days.

The agent noted that Sanford had homes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Scottsdale, Arizona, and La Jolla, California. And he found that IP addresses in all of those areas were used to access the account.

Additionally, the agent noted, a user could access computers in those locations remotely.

“Not being able to pinpoint where the geolocation is may bring in the jurisdictional issues,” said John Baker, an assistant professor of criminal justice studies at St. Cloud State University.

The state attorney general’s office said in a statement Thursday that its investigative file was forwarded to the U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota, which forwarded it to the Department of Justice. The file was also sent to authorities in Arizona and California.

“To date, none of those authorities have lodged charges against Sanford,” according to the statement provided to the Argus Leader.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment, nor did the U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota.

United States News

Traffic enter and leave mid-town Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Ne...

Associated Press

NYC’s plan to ease gridlock and pump billions into mass transit? A $15 toll for Manhattan drivers

NEW YORK (AP) — Between bridge and tunnel tolls, parking fees and the ever-present risk of getting a traffic ticket, it can already cost a mint to drive into Manhattan. Is forking over another $15 for the privilege of driving into the most traffic-choked parts of the island enough to finally get more people out […]

2 minutes ago

FILE - Firefighters extinguish a fire after a Russian attack on a residential neighborhood in Khark...

Associated Press

US adults fracture along party lines in support for Ukraine military funding, AP-NORC poll finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Russia makes battlefield advances and Ukrainian soldiers run short on ammunition, U.S. adults have become fractured along party lines in their support for sending military aid to Kyiv, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Democrats are more likely to say the U.S. government […]

8 minutes ago

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona, according to New Mexico State Police. The 13-year-old turned up at a Walmart in Deming on Tuesday after going missing the night before from his family’s home in Tucson. […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

UN appeals for $674 million as gang violence in Haiti escalates with killings and sexual violence

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Indiscriminate violence in Haiti is escalating — especially in the capital and surrounding region — with armed gangs carrying out killings and acts of sexual violence, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the conflict-wracked Caribbean nation said Wednesday. Ulrika Richardson told U.N. reporters in a virtual press conference from the Haitian […]

4 hours ago

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds up a phone that displays a map of illegal cannabis stores as entre...

Associated Press

Struggling to stop illegal cannabis stores, New York governor asks online sites to hide them

NEW YORK (AP) — After failing to wipe illegal cannabis dispensaries off the map, New York is asking online sites to hide them. Since the state legalized marijuana in 2021, unlicensed pot shops have proliferated across New York City, with limited pushback from authorities. On Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul called on online map and social […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Honolulu bribery trial won’t be postponed despite an investigation into a threat against a US judge

HONOLULU (AP) — An upcoming bribery trial against Honolulu’s former top prosecutor won’t be delayed despite an ongoing investigation that one of the defendants in the case allegedly threatened the safety of the judge who had been presiding over the case, which prompted his unexpected recusal last month. The new judge ruled Wednesday there will […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Court unseals search warrant affidavits in Sanford probe