United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Martin, South Dakota, man convicted of Accessory After the Fact (Murder) and Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, was sentenced on May 24, 2018, by Chief Judge, Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.
Scott Edison Benson, age 31, was sentenced to 10 years in federal custody, to run consecutive with a second federal sentence of 8 1/3 years, followed by 4 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Benson previously pleaded guilty to Accessory After the Fact, on January 19, 2018. On the same day, in an unrelated matter, Benson also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance.
On May 27, 2017, Benson and two other males drove to meet Christopher E. Janis near Sharps Corner. While Benson was arranging a purchase of prescription pills with Janis, one of the other males with Benson appeared at the driver-door window by Janis. Benson witnessed the male shoot Janis, and saw the second male take the handgun and shoot him several additional times. Christopher E. Janis died from the multiple gunshot wounds. Benson ran back to his vehicle and drove away with the two males. The firearm used by the men in the shooting belonged to Benson. At no time after Benson witnessed the men shoot Janis did he make any attempt to render aid or contact law enforcement. The two men with Benson have been indicted and their cases are currently pending.
Benson was also part of a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from January 2016 through approximately May 30, 2017, around the Pine Ridge Reservation, particularly in the Martin, Allen, and Kyle areas. He distributed to others for consumption at least 350, but less than 500 grams, of methamphetamine.
Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity. Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers. It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
These two cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Northern Plains Safe Trails Task Force, Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations, and the Rapid City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn N. Rich prosecuted both cases.
Benson was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of South Dakota