EB-5 Middleman Benda's Death Ruled a Suicide by South Dakota AG

By David North on November 21, 2013

The shooting death of onetime EB-5 middleman, Richard Benda, described in a previous blog, was ruled a suicide Thursday by South Dakota's Attorney General, Marty Jackley.

According to the AG's Office, as reported by the Associated Press, an autopsy showed that the death was by a shotgun blast and Benda's own 12-gauge shotgun was the only weapon found at the death site.

The announcement did not end the Benda-related set of controversies and questions: Why kill yourself with a shotgun when there are loads of pistols around? How do you arrange yourself and the gun to shoot yourself in the abdomen? And, as the Madville Times noted:

At this point, I will add only this: If it was suicide, Benda must have wanted to suffer. Shooting oneself in the gut is an awful way to go.

Other questions were asked about the month-long delay between the discovery of the body, on a farm owned by a Benda in-law, and the release of the autopsy findings. Why did it take so long?

Benda was a highly successful raiser of EB-5 investment funds for a number of South Dakota projects, including a very unsuccessful slaughterhouse in Aberdeen, Northern Beef Packers, which went into a spectacular bankruptcy despite the assistance of substantial funds from the state government and tens of millions in EB-5 investments. Benda also worked for Northern Beef in a financial capacity.

There are ongoing state and federal investigations into the use of EB-5 funds by the state agency formerly headed by Benda, and by the slaughterhouse, and these were underway at the time of his death.

Today's first-impression news accounts of the AG's decision did not mention any suicide note, nor did they dwell on the question of a motivation for such a suicide, but there is sure to be more coverage of such matters in the days ahead, as well as on the convoluted finances of Northern Beef both before and after the bankruptcy.

Although we at CIS have often noticed violent deaths associated with various aspects of immigration, the one in South Dakota is the first we have seen one that relates to the EB-5 program specifically. If there have been others, we would be grateful to hear about them.