HURON – A foreclosure action has been filed by Beadle County against properties owned by Kevin Krueger, the 52-year-old Huron man now serving life in prison without parole for first-degree murder.
State’s Attorney Mike Moore briefed county commissioners on the move on Tuesday.
The properties include a farm north of Cavour as well as one vacant lot and one containing a house in Huron.
“When we provide court-appointed attorneys and fees and pay for things of the defendant, we get liens by law,” Moore said. “Krueger owned property that has value and equity so we’re foreclosing on that property.”
Some personal property is also involved, but the foreclosure doesn’t include another house in Huron where he lived with a friend, Moore said.
By foreclosing, the county is trying to recoup some of the expenses incurred in the case.
“Ultimately what would happen if we’re successful is we would take possession and then have a sale,” Moore said.
Prosecution and defense of Krueger and co-defendant Jose Vega has cost the county in excess of $216,000.
Beadle County is a member of the Catastrophic Legal Expense Relief Program (CLERP) in South Dakota. The county is responsible for the first $25,000 of the legal fees in the cases, but then the balance of the expense is distributed among the other member counties on a percentage basis depending on population and other factors.
All but a couple of the 66 counties in South Dakota belong to CLERP, Moore said.
After paying the first $25,000, Beadle County’s share of the legal expense fund is about 10 percent, he said.
Most of the proceeds from the sale of Krueger’s property will revert to the fund.
“I think we would probably get about 10 percent of the recovery and then the other counties would get their money back,” Moore said.
Defendants, whether they’re convicted or acquitted, are required to pay the fees of their court-appointed attorneys.
But they request court-appointed attorneys to begin with because they don’t have money to hire them.
“It’s pretty rare that a defendant would have that equity in a property” that Krueger does, Moore said.
However, he said there have been cases in which the defendant owned property with his spouse.
“We’re not jerks,” he said. “If the wife had no involvement in the crime, we’re not going to take that property from his wife.
“That’s unique about this case, that Krueger had assets outside of a primary residence,” Moore said.
“It was a piece of property that had value. We feel it’s an obligation to recoup the taxpayers’ money. It’s the taxpayers that are paying this, not only in Beadle County but throughout the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, commissioners approved a request from the county’s four sheriff’s deputies to increase the monthly amount they are reimbursed for using their cell phones for work-related business.
A decade ago, commissioners initiated a policy to provide a stipend to county employees who use a cell phone to do their job.
“They developed three levels of payment depending on what they needed their cell phone for,” Moore said.
The county has paid a $30, $45 or $60 reimbursement each month. Deputies have been at the $30 level, but will now go to the $60 level.
Commissioners agreed that technology has changed how cell phones are used.
“One of the things they use it for is the camera function of the phone so we don’t provide cameras anymore, they just take pictures on their phone,” Moore said.
They also communicate via text and email.
“I use my cell phone more than I use my radio,” Deputy Shane Ball said.
The county’s expense will increase from $120 to $240 monthly, or to a total of $2,880 annually.
Moore is also on that top tier of a $60 per month reimbursement.
“I’m required to provide the public with my cell phone number so anybody can call me at anytime,” he said.
He uses his phone for email and other data needs for work, he said.
The deputies are doing the same thing.
“They get a lot of calls from the public on their cell phone,” Moore said. “Even though they don’t publish their numbers, a lot of the public knows their number to get ahold of them.
“It’s just evolved how they do their job and what they use to do their job,” he said.