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Published November 18, 2013, 07:40 PM

Trial began Monday for a TRF man facing multiple felony charges

The trial started Monday for a Thief River Falls man facing multiple felony charges for allegedly trying to extort half a million dollars. The man used a crude threat, a handwritten note in a mailbox -- to try to blackmail a former neighbor.

By: Michael Yoshida, WDAZ

The trial started Monday for a Thief River Falls man facing multiple felony charges for allegedly trying to extort half a million dollars. The man used a crude threat, a handwritten note in a mailbox -- to try to blackmail a former neighbor. Pre-trial motions and jury selection for the case against Gerald Sunsdahl started Monday morning.

The 52 year-old Thief River Falls man faces a charge of attempted coercion and two charges of making terroristic threats. All three are felonies, each carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

The charges stem from an incident this past June, when Pennington County authorities were notified that a threatening, handwritten letter had been found in a man's mailbox. The letter threatened to kill the man and his family -- unless he delivered $500,000 in cash in three roadside installments. Further investigations by authorities led to the eventual arrest of Gerald Sunsdahl.

Monday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case will resume again Tuesday at 9 AM in the Pennington County Courthouse.

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