Man charged with trying to extort neighbor

Published 10:26 am Thursday, August 22, 2013

THIEF RIVER FALLS — A northwestern Minnesota man is accused of trying to extort $500,000 from a former neighbor by leaving a letter in his mailbox threatening to kill him and his family if he did not comply with demands to deliver the cash in three roadside installments.

Gerald Sunsdahl, 52, of Thief River Falls, has been charged in Pennington County with making terroristic threats and attempted coercion.

Two pages of a handwritten, misspelled letter were left in the neighbor’s mailbox demanding the money be left at a certain mile marker along a specific highway or the neighbor and his relatives would be killed.

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“We are asking For 500,000 Thousand dollor in cash. We have stacked out your place for 3 months. We got your house Buged We can hear you AT ALL Time’s,” the letter attached to the criminal complaint read. “There are 3 guy’s that are watching you at all times. Sharp shooters.”

The letter writer instructs the man to tell bank officials who might question the large withdrawals that he was helping family members and that he was ill.

“Be Quite or your family dead,” the letter said. It asked for a drop of $250,000, then $50,000, then another $200,000 in the same manner.

Pennington County Attorney Alan Rogalla saidthat it appears Sunsdahl extorted his neighbor to “replenish” his parents’ accounts which he had drained as their power of attorney. Rogalla said he’s preparing additional felony charges against Sunsdahl which accuse him of failing to pay taxes on money he took from his parents.

Sunsdahl remains jailed in the Pennington County jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Sunsdahl did not immediately return a call seeking comment.