S.D. Court Rules Against Former Agent Who Held Insurance Executive Hostage

February 19, 2008

A federal appeals court has upheld a judge’s ruling against the Sioux Falls man who held an insurance executive hostage in 1991.

Eric Castaneira, who served 10 years for kidnapping, filed a lawsuit against the executive director and members of the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles.

He pleaded guilty to kidnapping for the Sept. 3, 1991, standoff in which he held the late Alan Spencer hostage. Spencer was a vice president with Midland National Life Insurance Co. and Castaneira was an insurance agent from Harrisburg, Pa., upset with the termination of his contract.

After 12 hours, negotiators talked him into leaving the building. Spencer was released unharmed. Bill Janklow was a private lawyer at the time and helped negotiate an end to the standoff.

Castaneira was sentenced to 100 years in prison but Janklow, during his second stint as governor, cut that to 20 years before he became the state’s congressman.

That allowed Castaneira to be paroled in December 2002, but he challenged the supervision stipulations set by the state parole board, saying they prevented him from moving out of state.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol ruled in favor of the defendants and refused to reconsider the case. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now affirmed that decision.

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