Former South Dakota engineer indicted for embezzlement

South Dakota News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Former Minnehaha County Highway Superintendent Duane (DJ) Buthe, Jr., 40, has been indicted on a charge of embezzling more than $100,000 from a statewide association of county highway superintendents, according to the State’s Attorney office in Brookings County.

Buthe served as the secretary of the South Dakota Association of County Highway Superintendents (SDACHS) from 2013-2020. During that time, Buthe completed numerous retail transactions, cash withdrawals and illegal money transactions on the SDACHS for his benefit, according to a state’s attorney news release.

Buthe worked for Minnehaha County until early March when he started as the city public works director for the city of Brookings. Prior to working for Minnehaha County, he worked for the city of Sioux Falls.

Chelsie Bakken, the public information officer for the city of Brookings, said in response to KELOLAND News questions about Buthe’s status with the city, said the city does not comment on personnel issues.

Buthe was indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of embezzlement on Aug. 26.

Minnehaha County Commissioner Jean Bender said the county had consulting firm Eide Bailly do an audit of the county’s highway department for fiscal year 2020 when it appeared expenses were $4 million over budget. The audit was completed in February of this year and it was determined that the county had good internal controls in place, Bender said.

The excess expenses were expenses on paper because of encumbered funds, which means it’s money the county intends to pay for work that will be done, she said. The expenses were not an over-expense or error, Bender said.

The county has new software to better reflect that process, Bender said.

After learning of the indictment on Buthe, Bender said the county contacted Eide Bailly who assured the county that its audit had been thorough and no irregular actions had been found.

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