Former South Dakota auditor again facing federal fraud charges

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RAPID CITY, S.D. — A former South Dakota state auditor is facing 14 federal charges related to fraud just four years after being convicted of similar crimes.

Steven A. Knigge, age 76, whose LinkedIn account says he started as a state auditor in 1983, is also a retired fraud investigator with the South Dakota Department of Revenue. Court documents unsealed this week show Knigge is facing five counts of bank fraud, eight counts of money laundering, and one count of wire fraud after cashing multiple fraudulent checks between April and October 2021. Knigge allegedly also applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan just over $20,000 in April 2021.

Court documents show Knigge used Med5 Federal Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, and Black Hills Federal Credit Union, depositing five fraudulent checks totaling around $142,000 and successfully withdrawing $16,000 of that before the banks could determine the checks were bogus. His fraudulent PPP loan application requested funds for a non-existent remodeling business, and Knigge supported the application with false bank statements, a fake W-2, and a fictitious account statement from Green Dot showing an undisclosed amount of income for “engineer services.”

Knigge was sentenced to two years in prison in 2018 for money laundering and bank fraud. At the time, Knigge used hacked or fraudulent email addresses to target five banks nationwide asking for wire transfers to Knigge’s South Dakota bank account. Two banks transferred money to Knigge, who then immediately sent it overseas using MoneyGram and Western Union.

Steven Knigge appeared via video conference for his arraignment on August 3 in front of Judge Veronica L. Duffy. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail. Knigge is still under three years of supervised release from his 2018 conviction.

If convicted, Knigge faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each count of bank fraud, $1 million fine and 30 years in prison for the wire fraud count, and a fine of up to $500,000 and 20 years for each money laundering charge.

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News