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SD attorney general: T. Denny Sanford, namesake of Sanford Health, won't face child porn charges

A deputy said there were no "prosecutable" offenses found by the Department of Criminal Investigation.

Denny Sanford.jpg
T. Denny Sanford, the namesake benefactor for Sanford Health.
Special to The Forum
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — No child pornography charges will be filed in South Dakota against one of its most famous philanthropists.

T. Denny Sanford, the 86-year-old billionaire who has donated millions to charitable causes and is the namesake of Sanford Health, had been under investigation for possible charges.

Deputy South Dakota Attorney General Brent Kempema said in a court document Friday, May 27, that the state Division of Criminal Investigation had completed its investigation of Sanford and "there are no prosecutable offenses within the jurisdiction of the state of South Dakota."

Sanford was referred to in the document as an "implicated individual." It was not known until late last year that the person being investigated was Sanford, although it had apparently been an ongoing case for a few years.

Sanford's attorney, former South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, said in a statement he released to The Forum on Friday night that, "Mr. Sanford appreciates the public acknowledgment by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office that the DCI has concluded its investigation and they have found no prosecutable crime."

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It remains unclear if similar investigations into Sanford in other jurisdictions remain open, but Jackley said the attorney general's office would have to answer that question.

Jackley said his statement would be the only comment from Sanford.

In the past year, the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls and ProPublica had sought records related to a criminal investigation into Sanford.

As recently as March, the Attorney General's Office had acknowledged the DCI's investigation was ongoing, according to the newspaper.

The attorney general had obtained search warrants in the case.

Sanford has pledged to give away his entire fortune during his lifetime and has been supporting the multistate Sanford Health operation for at least two decades. He made his fortune through the First Premier Bank as well as its credit card operations.

He has been listed by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the 50 most generous philanthropists.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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