Butte Co. State’s Attorney arrested on pot charges

Heather Plunkett

BELLE FOURCHE — The Butte County State’s Attorney was arrested Friday on charges of marijuana possession.

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced Monday that Heather Plunkett, 31, and her husband Ryan Plunkett, 33, both of Belle Fourche, were each charged with possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, ingesting a substance other than alcohol, both Class 1 misdemeanors, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class 2 misdemeanor.

A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and or a $2,000 fine. A Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and or a $500 fine.

They were arrested in their home by Department of Criminal Investigation officers accompanied by Butte County Sheriff deputies serving a warrant.

Officials with the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office said that a special prosecutor, Paul Bachand, of Pierre, has been assigned to prosecute the case. The cost to prosecute the case would be covered by the state drug fund rather than by Butte County.

Repeated attempts to reach Heather Plunkett for comment were unsuccessful.

Under state law Plunkett may continue to serve in her official capacity until she resigns or is removed by the governor.

It was not immediately known if Gov. Dennis Daugaard has been notified of the arrest.

The Plunketts are being represented by Matt Kinney and Kimberly De Hueck, both of Kinney Law in Spearfish.

Kinney told the Black Hills Pioneer that he was waiting on the actual filing of criminal charges and said that would likely happen today.

Kinney said typical punishment for the conviction of charges the Plunketts face is a suspended jail sentence, a $484 fine, based upon a combination of a fine and court costs, and the convicted person may or may not have to undergo substance abuse counseling.

“I’m not trying to say that a prosecutor would get the typical punishment,” Kinney cautioned.

A court date has been scheduled for Jan. 8 for the Plunketts.

Plunkett was a deputy state’s attorney in Butte County prior to her appointment to her current position in December 2010 to fill out the term of Tim Vander Heide who resigned.

A judge outside of the 4th Circuit Court, which includes Butte County, may be requested; however, the case would likely continue to be prosecuted in 4th Circuit Court, said Sara Raburn, with the attorney general’s office.

Arrests of state’s attorneys are not common, officials with the attorney general’s office said. More common, although still rare, is the arrest of deputy state’s attorneys.

In 2014, Kenneth Chleborad, a Meade County deputy state’s attorney was convicted of his second DUI in South Dakota. Both convictions occurred while he served in that capacity. With his latest conviction he was ordered to serve 10 days in jail, pay a $415 fine, $85 in court costs, and $85 for a blood alcohol test. His license was revoked for one year but he was allowed a work permit and a permit for medical travel.

He received a pay cut and remains a deputy state’s attorney in Meade County.

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