Doug Dreyer  /  AP file
Former U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow, R-S.D. walks to the Moody County Courthouse in Flandreau, S.D., on Thursday.
updated 1/22/2004 6:44:34 PM ET 2004-01-22T23:44:34

Bill Janklow, who dominated South Dakota politics for three decades as governor and then congressman, was sentenced to 100 days in jail Thursday for an auto accident that killed a motorcyclist and ended Janklow’s career in disgrace.

After 30 days behind bars, Janklow will be allowed to leave jail during the day for up to 10 hours to perform community service. After he completes his jail term, he will be on probation for three years, during which he will not be allowed to drive.

“If I could change places with him, I would. It’s easy for me to say that, but I would,” the former congressman told the judge before hearing his sentence.

“All I can say, judge, is I’m sorry for what happened, and I wish I could change it,” Janklow said, his voice choking.

The 64-year-old Republican was found guilty Dec. 8 of second-degree manslaughter, speeding and running a stop sign for a collision that killed 55-year-old motorcyclist Randy Scott at a rural intersection on Aug. 16. Janklow announced his resignation from the House hours after the verdict.

South Dakota does not require minimum sentences, so Judge Rodney Steele was free to impose anything from no jail time and no fines to a total of more than 11 years behind bars and $11,400 in fines.

$10,000 in fines
The judge fined Janklow $5,000 and ordered him to pay $50 a day for the cost of his 100 days in jail, for another $5,000. The former congressman was ordered to report to the county jail in Sioux Falls on Feb. 7.

During the trial in Janklow’s hometown, the jury saw him in tears as he described his grief over the crash. The defense argued that Janklow, a diabetic, had not eaten for 18 hours and was suffering a diabetic reaction that left him confused and disoriented.

A prosecutor called the scenario “goofy” and said Janklow concocted it as an excuse for going 71 mph in a 55 mph zone in his Cadillac.

Janklow was state attorney general in the 1970s before serving a total of 16 years as governor and then winning South Dakota’s lone House seat in 2002.

Over three decades, Janklow charged ahead with his vision for the state, winning over voters in heavily conservative South Dakota with his tough-talking, often abrasive style.

He made South Dakota a major center for credit-card issuers such as Citibank, saved rail service in most of the state, and used inmates to wire schools for high-speed Internet access.

But he also made many enemies over his unwillingness to compromise, his insults and attacks on opponents and his penchant for cutting corners.

12 tickets in four years
Janklow made no secret of his need for speed. He received 12 speeding tickets from 1990 to October 1994. A month later, he was elected to the third of his four terms as governor and never received another ticket in the state.

“Bill Janklow speeds when he drives — shouldn’t, but he does,” Janklow said in a 1999 speech to the Legislature. “When he gets the ticket he pays it, but if someone told me I was going to jail for two days for speeding, my driving habits would change.”

Janklow would have been up for re-election in November. His resignation from Congress became effective Tuesday.

A special election will be held June 1 to pick someone to serve the rest of his term, giving Democrats an early chance to pick up a seat in the narrowly divided House. The seat will remain vacant until then.

The Republicans will gather Friday and Saturday to select a candidate. The Democrats will meet on March 6 and are expected to tap Stephanie Herseth, who narrowly lost to Janklow in 2002.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments