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Former grain elevator operator sentenced on tax evasion, fraud charges

Former grain elevator operator sentenced on tax evasion, fraud charges Photo: KSTP

June 21, 2019 03:23 PM

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota says a former employee of an Ashby grain elevator has been sentenced to eight years (96 months) in prison after pleading guilty in February to mail fraud and income tax evasion.

A release said Jerome Robert Hennessey was sentenced Friday in federal court in Fergus Falls.

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RELATED: Ex-Minnesota grain elevator manager charged with mail fraud

The criminal complaint and a law enforcement affidavit in the matter said Hennessey defrauded the Ashby Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Co. for 15 years, from 2003 through at least September 2018. 

Hennessey managed the elevator for nearly 30 years.

In September of last year, 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, each 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 Kanabec County, according to the court filing.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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