Life had been unfair to Andy Lynn Jaeger. Twofold.
Not only did the Benson, Minnesota man have cancer. He didn't have the funds to pay for transportation from the Swift County locale, well west of St. Cloud, to his treating oncologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester some 225 miles away.
The 51-year-old Jaeger's sad story tugged on the heartstrings of a sympathetic friend, who responded by opening his pocketbook. According to the criminal complaint, the generous humanitarian "did not want to see someone lose a battle to cancer because they could not afford it."
During the first six months of 2016, Jaeger's friend withdrew a total of $60,000 from his bank account. Sometimes he gave Jaeger a few hundred bucks at a pop. Other times he'd hand over as much as $3,000.
Jaeger appreciated it, even pledging to repay with a notarized I.O.U letter last August.
But bank officials became alarmed by the cavalcade of withdrawals.
Could you be the victim of a scam? they asked Jaeger's chum.
I've never seen any proof of Andy's diagnosis, but I have no reason to mistrust him, the man replied.
Benson Police decided to take a closer look.
During a phone interview Jaeger told an officer he was using the cash to pay for medical bills related to an unnamed muscle disease. The suspect conceded he didn't know whether he had cancer, but was still undergoing "testing." Jaeger also couldn't provide proof he had used the borrowed funds to travel to Rochester for treatment.
Jaeger, 51, is charged with felony theft by swindle.
His next appearance in Swift County District Court comes April 26.
A woman who answered the phone at Jaeger's Benson home said he wasn't available to talk.
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