United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Vernon Blackhorse, age 61, of St. Francis, South Dakota, appeared before United States District Judge Roberto A. Lange on November 29, 2011, and pled guilty to Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
Vernon Blackhorse was convicted of incest and second degree rape in 1991. The court sentenced Blackhorse to 25 years' imprisonment and ordered that he register as a sex offender for life. Blackhorse was paroled and released on October 2, 2000. In 2003, Blackhorse relocated to the Rosebud Reservation and did not register as a sex offender until December 6, 2010. On February 11, 2011, Blackhorse moved from his residence and failed to register his new address within 3 days of moving. He also failed to register for the quarter of March 2011 as required by his status as a sex offender.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Marshal's Service and Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marie H. Ruettgers.
A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for February 20, 2011. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.