A former sheriff convicted less than a year ago of bilking a 91-year-old man out of more than $172,000 now faces charges of swindling $115,000 from a Woodbury man in identical scams involving the purchase of a vintage airplane.

According to court records and a criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court, Von F. Thompson, 55, of Mora, Minn., borrowed $115,000 from David Pietsch of Woodbury in June 2008 in a business deal to buy and refurbish a 1952 Beech C35 airplane.

Pietsch told investigators that Thompson, who served as Kanabec County sheriff from 1983 to 1999, was a trusted friend who told him to expect a return of 15 to 20 percent on his investment within 90 days. Pietsch wrote him a check for $50,000, the complaint says.

It was a similar story Thompson had told an elderly Mora man a few months earlier, and the result was the same: Thompson diverted the money for his own use, the complaint says. Thompson was convicted on three felony counts in the earlier swindle last April. A 3 1/2-year prison term was stayed, and he was ordered to pay restitution and be on probation for 20 years.

A month after getting the $50,000 from Pietsch, Thompson again approached him with another investment, this time to refurbish a motorcycle. Pietsch gave Thompson $35,000. And a month later, Pietsch wrote out a third check, this one for $30,000, for yet another motorcycle, the complaint says.

After Thompson was charged in the earlier swindle, he then asked Pietsch for a $150,000 loan to help with his legal costs. Pietsch declined.

Later, Thompson asked for Pietsch's help in defending himself. Thompson gave Pietsch titles to an airplane, his vehicles and a motorcycle as collateral and to persuade his support, the complaint says. As it turned out, the plane was a rusty, unflyable hulk, the vehicles were subject to liens and an envelope Thompson said held the motorcycle title was empty.

In November 2008, the complaint says, Thompson met Pietsch in Pietsch's office and said he would pay Pietsch back because he had just won the lottery. Pietsch said he has never been repaid.

Thompson is due in court on Thursday.

Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999