Former South Dakota Attorney General to take post in Thailand

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo is resigning his job in April to take another job in Thailand.
Mark Vargo
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:11 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. - Mere months after completing a roughly six-month tenure as South Dakota’s top law enforcement officer, Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo is bound for Asia.

Vargo, who served as the state’s 32nd Attorney General last year, confirmed to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory that he would be taking a post in the country, to work on “rule of law projects” related to southeast Asia.

The job will include helping countries in the region craft and improve their legal systems and governing documents.

“There are always challenges in any office, and when you step away you always wonder if it is the right time to step away,” Vargo said. “It just feels like the institution I am presently leading is a strong one, and people will step in and continue that.”

Vargo, 59, has been the Pennington County State’s Attorney since 2013. Just days after Vargo led the prosecution in the impeachment trial of former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, Gov. Kristi Noem appointed Vargo to lead the office. A Georgetown University law graduate, Vargo previously worked as the assistant State’s Attorney in Miami-Dade County.

Applauded for his work with South Dakota’s Native American communities, Vargo’s brief tenure as Attorney General was seen as a way to help set the stage for Marty Jackley’s return to the office.

“There were some great challenges faces the Attorney General’s office before I got there,” Vargo said. “And when I got there, I still found incredible people and protocols. The bones of that institution were strong.”

Vargo’s last day in office will April 24. He and his wife intend to be in Thailand by May, while still maintaining a residence in the Rapid City area.

The Pennington County Commission will ultimately be tasked with appointing his replacement, but Vargo says he has been advocating for Lara Rochelle Roetzel, who served as the interim while Vargo stepped into the AG’s office.

“We have an amazing staff, with plenty of young attorneys. There are always challenges, but those challenges are going to be here at any given moment.”