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Thief River Falls man convicted of threatening, extorting brothers

THIEF RIVER FALLS — A Pennington County jury took less than 90 minutes Wednesday to find Gerald Sunsdahl guilty on three felony counts, including terrorizing brothers Dean Hanson and Dale Hanson in an attempt to coerce them into giving him money.

State District Judge Jeffery Remick set sentencing for Sunsdahl, 52, of Thief River Falls, for Dec. 16. Each count – two charges of making terroristic threats and another for attempted coercion – 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.

Sunsdahl left a threat-filled letter in Dean Hanson’s mailbox, promising mayhem if Hanson didn’t produce $500,000. Hanson found the letter June 3.

On June 5, Sunsdahl made a follow-up call to Hanson, using a disguised voice to demand a drop-off that morning of $10,000 in a ditch just northeast of Thief River Falls.

Sunsdahl was arrested that day in a sting operation.

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