MINNEAPOLIS — The former manager of a western Minnesota grain elevator who disappeared after allegedly stealing nearly $5 million is charged in federal court with mail fraud.
Jerry Hennessey, 56, of Dalton surrendered and made his initial court appearance Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
The criminal complaint and a law enforcement affidavit said Hennessey defrauded the Ashby Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Co. in Ashby, Minnesota, for 15 years, from 2003 through at least September 2018. He allegedly spent the money on exotic hunting safaris, taxidermy, outdoor gear and credit card debt, the Star Tribune reported.
Hennessey managed the elevator for nearly 30 years. He already faces a lawsuit in state court accusing him of stealing more than $4.9 million from the business.
In September, the co-op contacted authorities about payments Hennessey made to himself or for his personal expenses. When the co-op asked to meet with Hennessey, he didn't show up and instead met a friend who drove him to Des Moines, Iowa.
Hennessey's friends told investigators he told them he had taken money from his employer and was in trouble.
According to the affidavit, the co-op discovered multiple checks written by Hennessey to himself for over $40,000, including a check for $135,000. Hennessey coded his allegedly fraudulent checks as purchases of corn, soybeans and wheat for the co-op, according to court documents.
Among the payments in question included over $1 million to Hennessey's personal credit card and hundreds of thousands of dollars for hunting trips, including international big game hunting safaris, and taxidermy services, the affidavit said.
In January 2017, Hennessey mailed a check for more than $34,000 from the co-op's account for a partial payment toward the purchase of hunting property in Minnesota's Kanabec County, according to the court filing.
Online court records do not list an attorney who could speak for Hennessey.