SIOUX FALLS (AP) – A former Minnehaha County highway superintendent and Brookings public works director has been sentenced to 180 days in jail for embezzlement, with 80 days of that sentence suspended.
Duane Buthe, 41, earlier pleaded guilty to embezzling about $127,000 from Minnehaha County and the South Dakota Association of County Highway Superintendents.
A judge Thursday suspended a 10-year prison sentence, noting Buthe had already made restitution. Buthe will also be on probation for three years.
Buthe expressed remorse for his actions, the Argus Leader reported.
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed to the core of my being,” he said. “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make amends and showing that I’m a better person than what my actions have shown throughout this.”
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation began looking into some funds missing from the state association of superintendents last year. Buthe had served as the associations secretary since 2013.
According to the charges, Buthe made retail transactions, cash withdrawals and other misappropriations from the association’s account. He admitted to the misappropriations as well as using county funds for his personal benefit.
The judge asked why he had committed the actions, and Buthe explained because he got away with it once, “I let myself do it a few more times and that went on for quite some time.”
Buthe served as the Minnehaha County highway superintendent for seven years before leaving the job in 2020 to become the public works director in Brookings. His employment with the City of Brookings ended last summer.