Documents show first glimpse of alleged co-op embezzler’s hunting trophies, debt details
ELBOW LAKE, Minn. — Recently filed court documents include photos of hunting trophies at the home of a former Minnesota farm elevator manager who is accused of using money from the co-op to pay for his big-game hunting trips.
Jerry Hennessey is facing federal charges related to the case while the business he managed, Ashby Farmers Co-op Elevator, pursues a civil case against the former manager.
The co-op alleges Hennessey and his wife deprived the co-op of nearly $5.5 million in assets from 2003 to Hennessey’s departure in September. Hennessey went on the lam on Sept. 10. After a federal IRS investigation, he was charged with mail fraud and turned himself in Dec. 4.
According to court documents, Hennessey paid at least $1.19 million to his personal credit card bills, including $219,414 in construction expenses for his personal properties, including his home near Dalton in west-central Minnesota.
Court documents say the unauthorized projects appear to have included an “addition of a huge heated shed complete with a full-service bar and home theater to house the animal trophies.” The documents include the first public photographs of some of the displays from hunting trips around the world, including a tiger and several African animals.
The documents say Hennessey from January 2013 to November 2017 misappropriated more than $416,245 to pay Taxidermy Unlimited, owned by Betty and Marv Gaston in Burnsville.
Nearly $1.4 million of the funds were for “personal hunting and recreational expenses,” the documents state. For the first time, the co-op also listed amounts Hennessey paid to vendors.
The largest include $312,150 to Jay Link of Link’s Wild Safaris, a Wisconsin-based business that provides international hunting trips; $277,875 to Dickey Mueller and Mabula Game Lodge in South Africa; and $177,500 to Chris Bilkey in New Zealand.
The list also includes $88,000 to Apple Creek Whitetails, Gillett, Wis.; $65,875 to Mulehead Ranch in South Dakota and businesses in Alaska and Texas.
Hennessey’s last trip was to Australia in August 2018, just prior to the financial irregularities being discovered at the co-op
For the construction of the building at the Hennessey property, the report details more than $200,000 of co-op money paid to contractors, “all of which were falsely coded as purchases of soybeans, wheat or corn.” The checks were on the account of “Ashby Farmers Elevator Co,” but the recipient would not have seen any notation for the purpose.
Hennessey’s attorney, Thomas Kelly of Minneapolis, did not return a phone message requesting an interview.
Attorneys for the elevator filed a motion Dec. 31 asking Grant County District Judge Amy Doll for a default judgment against its former manager Hennessey and his estranged wife, Rebecca.