Fraudulent Grain Elevator Manager Turns Himself In

The former manager of the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. surrenders and faces federal criminal charge.
The former manager of the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. surrenders and faces federal criminal charge.
(Trevor Peterson / Agweek)

Jerry Hennessey disappeared in early September. The former grain elevator manager at the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. in west-central Minnesota, allegedly pocketed around $5.5 million from the company. He used the money for hunting trips, home construction projects, land purchases, taxidermy and paying his personal Cabela’s credit card. 

On Dec. 4, he surrendered to authorities and appeared in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, where he was charged with mail fraud.

Hennessey, 56, managed the cooperative since 1988. Initial investigations show Hennessey siphoned off funds while inflating grain inventories from the single-location grain co-op for the past 15 years. 

According to the affidavit, on Sept. 12, 2018, the co-op contacted local law enforcement regarding concerns over payments that Hennessey had made to himself or for his own personal expenses. The co-op discovered multiple checks written by Hennessey to himself for over $40,000 and including a check for $135,000.

At least 12 checks—totaling more than $400,000—were used for items such as “South Africa Mounts” and “Zimbabwe Double Kudu Pedestals” and for a “Zebra Pedestal.” In addition, the co-op board’s investigation showed on Jan. 27, 2017, Hennessey mailed a check in the amount of $34,166.67 from the co-ops’ account for a partial payment toward the purchase of hunting property in Kanabec County, Minn. 

According to the affidavit, after the co-op identified the suspicious payments, they requested Hennessey meet with them on the morning of Sept. 10, 2018. He did not show up for the meeting and instead met a friend who ultimately drove Hennessey to Des Moines, Iowa. Two of Hennessey’s acquaintances who were interviewed by law enforcement indicated that Hennessey told them that he taken money from his employer and was in a lot of trouble. 

The Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co., which was established 110 years ago, closed for a month after the fraud was discovered. Then, nearby Wheaton-Dumont Co-op Elevator leased the facility and reopened the co-op. 

Around 200 to 300 co-op members were affected, says attorney Erik Ahlgren, who was hired by the co-op’s board. 

Hennessey’s surrender may bring some closure, Ahlgren told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but his return to Minnesota doesn’t mean everybody will be paid back. Ahlgren hopes to liquidate some of Hennessey’s assets to reimburse those who are owed money. 

Read More

Protect Yourself: Lessons from Grain Elevator Fraud

Sticky Fingers Fraud: $2M Missing at Grain Elevator


Latest News

Southern States: Rebuilding for The Next 100 Years

This year marks the cooperative’s 100th year in business. And as Steve Becraft describes, there’s more to celebrate than the centennial milestone.

The Carbon Games: Agricultural Producers Still Looking for the Leaderboard

“What we need to do to move carbon past the starting line is to show farmers the scoreboard and tell them exactly what they need to do to earn their points,” said Mitchell Hora.  

Senators Reintroduce the Next Generation Fuels Act

Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, says the fuel industry has only “scratched the surface” of ethanol potential. She feels this act will help unleash ethanol’s capabilities.

Farming The Northern Plains: Wheat Is A Winner, Corn Is A Headache

“The planting priorities are number one,” says Dr. Lee Briese of Central Ag Consulting. Jamestown, ND

The Equity and WebAir Launch Drone Spray Company

Green Creek Drone Company will be led by Tony Weber as general manager and will also be working closely with The Equity’s Agronomy Department providing custom application of fungicides in select areas in 2023.

Helena’s Two New Brands With A Sustainability Focus

The company says these new products balance crop production needs with environmental stewardship to increase yields responsibly and efficiently.