UPDATE: Mistrial in Social Security fraud case - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Mistrial in Social Security fraud case

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - A judge declared a mistrial Friday for the most serious charges against a Portage County man accused in a plot to steal his mother-in-law's Social Security checks for decades.

Ronald Disher, 72, was charged with three felonies - fraud, forgery and theft - in a scheme to fraudulently cash Marie Jost's Social Security checks for more than 30 years. A jury failed to reach a verdict on those counts following nearly nine hours of deliberations over two days.

The jury convicted Disher of two misdemeanors: endangering safety and disorderly conduct involving a confrontation with a Social Security investigator.

Portage County Assistant District Attorney Veronica Isherwood said she will seek a new trial.

Disher's attorney, Gary Kryshak, said he was disappointed with the mistrial. "I am prepared to go at it again," he said.

After the jury told a judge that they couldn't agree on a verdict, Disher was returned to the Portage County Jail.
Marie Jost was last seen in the 1980s and prosecutors say some $170,000 worth of her Social Security checks were fraudulently cashed.

Disher's wife, Delores, and brother-in-law, Charles Jost, were also charged with stealing the Social Security money. Jost was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and was sentenced to a mental institution. Charges against Delores Disher were dismissed after she suffered a stroke in jail.

In testimony Thursday, Ronald Disher said he had a fourth grade education, he could read "a little bit" and can only write his name and a date.

Disher said he earned money by selling iron and from a minnow business. He told the jury he never got any money from Jost's Social Security checks.

Disher, describing himself as a "professional minnow catcher," said he drove his wife and brother-in-law to places, including near a bank, but he did not know they were cashing any checks.

"They could not have cashed any of those checks without Ronald driving them to the bank each month," said Assistant District Attorney Veronica Isherwood.

"I did not get no money out of Marie Jost," said Disher on Thursday. "I don't have to. I got my own money. When I want to use it, I'll use it when it's good and ready."

Prosecutors dismissed one count of mail fraud against Disher before he testified.

In court Wednesday, social security special agent Nathan Catura testified he tried to search Disher's property, but that Disher threatened him with a stick. Prosecutors argued the agent was just doing his job, but the defense said the agent was trespassing.

Two inmates who were in prison with Disher also took the stand Wednesday, testifying Disher made comments about Jost.


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