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Forum News Service, Published November 20 2013

Jury finds Thief River Falls man guilty in bizarre extortion case

THIEF RIVER FALLS – A Pennington County jury found Gerald Sunsdahl guilty today on three felony counts, including making terroristic threats to brothers Dean Hanson and Dale Hanson in an attempt to coerce them to give him money in a bizarre extortion plot this summer.

“People don’t do that,” said Ted Curfman of Thief River, one of three men on the 12-person jury, when asked about the verdict reached in less than 90 minutes, including a lunch of pizza.

“And to me, in some of those interviews (with investigators) he admitted to it.”

State District Judge Jeffery Remick set sentencing for Sunsdahl, 52, for Dec. 16. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

But Sunsdahl’s attorney, Scott Collins, citing his client’s lack of any previous criminal record, asked Remick to release him pending sentencing, saying the 169 days he’s served since being arrested June 5 might suffice.

Remick denied the request, but said Sunsdahl can continue serving on work release.