DALTON, Minn. - Jerome "Jerry" Hennessey, the former general manager of the Ashby (Minn.) Farmers Cooperative Elevator, has put his house up for sale for $795,000.
Hennessey, 56, is accused of stealing $5 million from the elevator over at least 15 years to fund his big game hunting exploits, among other things. He is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Feb. 14 before Chief Judge John Tunheim in Courtroom 15 in Minneapolis to enter pleas on federal charges of mail fraud and income tax evasion.
Hennessey's Dalton, Minn., home is listed on the forfeiture list in the case against him. The cooperative also has indicated it will go after Hennessey's assets to pay back creditors and farmers.
According to a real estate listing
, the 5,344-square-foot house includes 7 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, and the property consists of 89.92 acres.
According to an indictment, Hennessey used the U.S. Postal Service to mail a $34,166.67 check to a landowner from whom Hennessey was purchasing property on a contract for deed. In 2013, says U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald, Hennessey reported $97,329 in income, for which he would owe $16,189 in taxes, when instead his true income would have required "at least $270,000 in additional tax due."
Federal authorities believe Hennessey used his position as elevator manager to write checks to himself and to third parties from 2003 to his suspension in September 2018. Checks were falsely represented for purchase of corn, soybeans and other operating expenses and supplies, but he wrote numerous checks exceeding $40,000 and one in 2009 totaling $135,000. He used them for renovating and "building two additions to his residence, renovating a hunting cabin, purchasing all-terrain vehicles, paying his personal credit cards and paying the property taxes on several pieces of land," according to court documents.
Hennessey wrote numerous checks to pay for personal credit cards, including "numerous checks that exceeded $20,000." He paid for "taxidermy, furniture, freight for the shipment back to Minnesota of numerous animals he had killed during overseas trips, jewelry, expenses related to all-terrain vehicles, clothing, entertainment, personal travel, domestic and international hunting trips, and attachments for a skid steer loader."
Prosecutors say he wrote more than 100 checks for personal expenses. They say he used his position as manager to obtain a line of credit for about $8 million for the co-op's seasonal expenses but used them to "cover the fraudulent payments made by the defendant for his own personal benefit." He made "numerous misrepresentations" to the lender, including "the amount of grain the co-op had in storage," documents say.