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Jurors listen to recording during trial for Thief River Falls man accused of terrorizing

Stephen J. Lee | Forum News Service

THIEF RIVER FALLS – Jurors listened today to the voice of Gerald Sunsdahl, recorded during an interview with law enforcement in June, as he wove a fantastic tale about drug terrorists from Chicago intent on killing his children in several states unless he delivered some drugs.

Or picked them up.

Sunsdahl couldn’t keep his story straight during the interview in which he claimed to be nervous as state and county law enforcement officers questioned him about an apparent extortion attempt he was suspected of committing.

In the recording played in state district court here today, Sunsdahl mixed up details while answering questions by Don Newhouse, a special agent with Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, after the law officer stopped him.

Sunsdahl, 52, is on trial on a felony charge of terrorizing.

Pennington County Attorney Al Rogalla said Sunsdahl wrote crudely worded threats to Dean Hanson demanding $500,000 or else Hanson’s family would be killed by unseen watching men. Rogalla introduced the first letter Hanson received June 3. A big stake-out involving a phalanx of state and local officers waited on June 5 just northeast of Thief River Falls while a sheriff’s deputy drove Hanson’s Chevy Blazer. Once the deputy saw a blue pickup truck flash its headlights twice, he testified he threw out a bag supposedly containing $10,000 in cash, per telephoned instructions from Sunsdahl to Hanson earlier that morning.

Within minutes, Sunsdahl was arrested.

Hanson already has testified.

Rogalla said he has three more witnesses to testify.

Sunsdahl also faces charges from the Minnesota Department of Revenue of failing to pay taxes. That trial is set for next month.

Forum News Service

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