Current status of Keith Graves, one of the main people in documentary “The Overnighters”

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Updates: Multiple updates through conviction and sentencing.

Update 5/19/16: Convicted human trafficker Keith Graves has been moved to a federal penitentiary. Mr. Graves is confined in Victorville Medium II Federal Correctional Institution.

We can drop the word alleged from our discussions of Mr. Graves’ actions while he was living in North Dakota.

Update: Welcome to those arriving on this page via internet search after watching the documentary on PBS. There are many posts I’ve written about The Overnighters. Enjoy!

If you watch the superb documentary “The Overnighters”, you will find that one of the central players is a man by the name of Keith A. Graves. Since the documentary was released he has gotten a lot more public attention and will be in the news even more over the next few months.

I am going to extend my discussion of the documentary beyond what I’ve mentioned before. I’ve been wanting to talk about more things for a long time. My new posts will not be in chronological or logical sequence, instead I will build my coverage one piece at a time.

Because Mr. Graves is such a major part of the story covered in the documentary, I think it is worth following his story. This will reflect back into the documentary as well.

Update:  Second superseding indictment adds additional count for another alleged trafficking victim.

Update: Third superseding indictment adds 11th count for the eighth alleged trafficking victim. Also adds a forfeiture claim.

Update 10/1Keith Graves trial still set for October 19

Update 10/16: Looks like Keith Graves’ trial is a go for this Monday, 10/19

Full disclosure

It is important to mention that my son participated in the overnighters program when he moved to North Dakota in 2012. That means I have more knowledge of the program than is visible in the documentary or the various discussions visible on the ‘net.

In addition, I am a member of a church that is a part of the same denomination as Concordia Lutheran Church, which is the congregation that is central to the documentary. Readers of my articles may or may not consider it important to know that I am an elder at my church.

Read any half-dozen posts on my blog and you will quickly realize I have rather strong opinions on the ongoing shale revolution.

If you have followed the story, you can use my disclosures to better filter my comments.


One’s way of looking at life impacts how one perceives things. I hope to go into more detail later on how this affects comments and discussions of this documentary.

For the moment, keep the worldview of various players in mind. I am a Christian. I choose to worship in the Lutheran setting. The producer and director of the documentary, Mr. Jesse Moss, has stated in various public discussions that he is not a person of faith.

Those different worldviews have a tremendous impact on perceptions.

Federal indictments

I will start with the current status. I’ve read a variety of documents on the federal Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, or PACER.

It is quite fascinating to dive into a criminal case in this situation. Most of my previous reading in PACER was focused on the criminal behavior of Mr. Scott London. The major difference is that Mr. Graves insists he is innocent and is awaiting trial while most of the documents in the case for Mr. London are affected by his immediate willingness to plead guilty.

The information document filed against Mr. London had lots of juicy details while the indictment filed against Mr. Graves is bare-bones.

Here are a few of the pertinent items I thought worth mentioning:

12/3/14 – PACER Mr. Graves was indicted under a sealed indictment. The redacted initial indictment is now available on PACER. The initial indictment contained allegations of trafficking five women in prostitution and obstruction.  I don’t know the implications or meaning for the additional count of obstructing enforcement of section 1591, which is the section cited in the trafficking counts.

12/22/14 – PACER – The case was unsealed. I think this corresponds with the day he was arrested on federal charges. On that date I think he was in state custody having been charged with several felony counts. I will discuss the state charges in later posts.

3/4/15 – PACER – A superseding indictment was issued. This added an additional trafficking allegation, bringing the total to six women who the federal government claims have been trafficked. It also including allegations of distribution of methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine.

The timing of the alleged trafficking is important in relation to other things going on in the overnighters program and things described in the documentary. Five of the women were allegedly trafficked between July 2013 and August 2014. One of the women was allegedly trafficked between May 2014 and July 2014. The alleged methamphetamine distribution took place between May 2014 and July 2014.  Those timelines are what is alleged in the indictment.

In later posts the importance of the timing will become obvious. At the moment, remember that the overnighter program was closed in September 2013. As I write this post I don’t recall the date when the pastor of the church resigned. (Update: His resignation was also in September 2013.)

3/9/15 – PACER – Arraignment on superseded indictment. Mr. Graves requested to represent himself at trial. The request will be referred to another judge, who I think is scheduled to be the trial judge. The minutes of the arraignment do not indicate whether this request will be honored. This arraignment hearing is the last document visible in PACER.

Trial status

7/13/15 – PACER – This is the scheduled trial date according to the 3/9 arraignment minutes. It is a slight continuance from the previously scheduled start date of July 1. Reason for this second delay is that two of the witnesses are pregnant with expected delivery dates for both women in early June.

The government expects the trial will take three days.

I expect we will see a lot more coverage in July. As a (smart-aleck) wild guess, the local paper may be live tweeting the trial.


Update: See also this update for developments after mid-March.

See other blog posts on The Overnighters on this tag.

Update 2: Posts on Mr. Graves’ status:



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