Little Joe Gustafson flunkie filed nonprofit in dead brother's name

Little Joe Gustafson: son of Hell's Angel and nonprofit founder

Little Joe Gustafson: son of Hell's Angel and nonprofit founder

Joseph Duane "Little Joe" Gustafson, a man awaiting trial on charges that he terrorized north Minneapolis for years, may have stolen the identities of his family members to create a nonprofit--then used an underling to do the dirty work.

Johns Hope--also called Fathers for fathers--is a nonprofit in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State. The nonprofit was created in December 2009 and named after John Gustafson, Little Joe's brother, who was killed in April 2003.

Rian Gustafson and James Albert Gustafson--Little Joe's wife and grandfather--were listed as board members for the nonprofit with the private service used to start the nonprofit. But both Rian and James say they had no idea that the organization had even been formed.

"Absolutely it's illegal," says James Albert Gustafson. "I didn't know nothing about it until my granddaughter told me about a few days ago."


The woman whose name is on file as the president of the nonprofit with the Minnesota Secretary State is Sheila Rae Mesker.

We called Mesker to ask her about the organization's history. Here's how the interview went:

CP: What was the purpose of the nonprofit?
Mesker: Nonprofit.

Sheila Rae Mesker, nonprofit prez

Sheila Rae Mesker, nonprofit prez

CP: It looks like it was named after John--
Mesker: After John-o. Joe's brother. So.

CP: What was the purpose of the nonprofit?
Mesker: That's not what I have to discuss right now.

CP: Well, who would be the person to discuss that? You're the president.
Mesker: Nobody will discuss that with you, cause nobody else knows.

CP: Oh, okay. Do you know what the purpose was?
Mesker: Do I? Obviously, I do.

CP: Okay. What was the purpose?
Mesker: I don't know. I'm not going to give out that information. It's not mine to give out.

Then she hung up on us.

We checked back with the Secretary of State, who confirmed that yes, paperwork has been filed to renew the nonprofit for this year, and yes, the nonprofit still is in good standing.

E-mails between a company called RocketLawyer and Little Joe's wife confirm that Mesker used the names and personal information of several Gustafson family members to start the nonprofit. RocketLawyer provides online tools to help people properly fill out forms like wills and trusts.

Mesker didn't tell us whose idea it was to start the nonprofit in the first place, but sources close to Little Joe say he was the man behind the plan.

Unfortunately, Johns Hope isn't listed as a tax-exempt organization with the IRS, so we can't get its tax forms. It's also not registered as a charity with the state of Minnesota, either. So we can't tell if the organization ever raised money.

But maybe you know ... did you ever give money to a group called Johns Hope?