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Texas man says he took EB-5 information to FBI

By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

PIERRE — A Texas lawyer said this week he gave information to the FBI and to a U.S. senator that triggered investigations of several South Dakota meatpacking projects that received money from immigrant investors seeking U.S. visas under the federal EB-5 program.

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Kirby Roberts, whose office is at Port Aransas, Texas, says he has been involved in representing one side of a leadership split in the Hutterite Church since 1993 that has put him on the opposite side of dozens of colonies in the region.

Roberts said he became familiar with the Dakota Provisions turkey processing operation at Huron, which is owned by Hutterite colonies. Roberts said he in turn became knowledgeable about aspects of the Northern Beef Packers plant at Aberdeen.

Roberts said he met with FBI agents in Minneapolis in November 2011 regarding those projects and the EB-5 investments in them.

Roberts said he has reason to believe, based on what he was told by a witness who was interviewed by the FBI, that the FBI began an investigation in March 2012. The witness, Bob Breukelman, confirmed that timeline in an interview Thursday.

“There are some issues that need to be and are being investigated,” Breukelman said.

Breukelman, now of Huron, was construction manager for the Northern Beef plant and served on the company’s board.

Breukelman Thursday said he was questioned last year and has been questioned again this year by the FBI regarding financial circumstances involving the project.

Breukelman said he gave information to the FBI about both the Aberdeen and Huron projects.

“They have talked to me a few times,” he said. “As I receive information, I’m supposed to call them and let them know.”

Breukelman said the current scope of the FBI’s investigation appears to be “predominantly in regard to the turkey plant in Huron.”

Aberdeen attorney Jeffrey Sveen is chairman of the board for the Dakota Turkey Growers business, and is one of two managers for Dakota Gobblers, according to documents from the state. The two businesses are part of the turkey processing operation. He was also involved in some financial matters involving the Aberdeen beef plant, according to records at the Brown County Clerk of Courts office.

Sveen also represents dozens of Hutterite colonies in the region on the opposite side of the dispute from attorney Roberts.

The Dakota Provisions turkey processing plant at Huron is owned by 44 grower-owners, most of them Hutterite colony farms, according to the company’s web site.

Breukelman said the FBI also was interested in the change of ownership of the Aberdeen beef plant from one of its founders, Dennis Hellwig of Aberdeen, to Oshik Song, an EB-5 investor from South Korea who relocated to the Minneapolis area.