When the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation conducted raids on the home and work offices of Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab on November 7, 2011, the agents were supposedly investigating an accusation of possible ‘witness tampering’. The audio recording below was taken by D.C.I. Agent Mark Black during his raid on the house and home office of child advocate Shirley Schwab. The raid was conducted in the immediate aftermath of NPR’s reporting in the fall of 2011 about South Dakota’s systematic violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Agent Black makes clear in this conversation that the investigation into Taliaferro and Schwab is Attorney General Marty Jackley’s top priority:
Agent Black: “This Is My Priority Case”
You may notice that in the recording below, during the search of Shirley Schwab’s office, DCI Agent Mark Black specifically requests a document which was submitted to the court by Ms. Schwab as part of the Mette case. The document which Agent Black asked for that day was a court report submitted by Ms. Schwab that addressed not only the plea bargain of Wendy Mette, but also the contract held by Brown County State’s Attorney Kim Dorsett with the South Dakota Department of Social Services for $75,000.00. This contract showed a conflict of interest with respect to Dorsett’s obligation to investigate the DSS in relation to the Mette case.
Agent Black asking for the report:
When Shirley Schwab uncovered the conflict of interest on the part of Brown County State’s Attorney Kim Dorsett, and submitted her report to the court, the State took action to silence and retaliate against Ms. Schwab.
This is a video of a conversation among state investigators on November 4, 2011, in which they (prior to obtaining a search warrant) discuss their plan to criminally prosecute Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab despite having no evidence of any wrongdoing. This will be difficult for some to watch.
This is the testimony of Steven D. Sandven, found in a sworn affidavit filed by Brandon Taliaferro in his appeal of his firing to the State Department of Labor. It is our belief that claim number 15 clearly indicates that the investigation against Mr. Taliaferro and Ms. Schwab was carried out unfairly and illegally.
A Special Report by the Lakota People’s Law Project. In April, 2013, the Lakota People’s Law Project published a detailed report revealing the results of their 18-month investigation into the Taliaferro/Schwab Affair. The report gives the entire history of the case.
Letters from Congress Demanding Scrutiny by BIA of South Dakota Foster Care. Between November 2011 and February 2013, lawmakers in Washington have written three times to the Department of Interior demanding that the Bureau of Indian Affairs stop South Dakota from violating the Indian Child Welfare Act.
NPR’s 2011 Peabody Award-Winning Story about South Dakota’s Violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Since October 2011, National Public Radio has aired four separate stories about ICWA violations in SD, including the most recent story about the Taliaferro/Schwab affair (found on the home page of this site).
Media Coverage of the Trial. The Aberdeen News has closely followed the Taliaferro/Schwab case. Although we found most of this reporting inadequate in real time for being overly-sympathetic to the state, we applaud the Aberdeen News for its ultimate conclusion about our case: it was a “major waste of time and justice” (see article from January 12, 2013.