A Dallas woman who withdrew a guilty plea on a felony theft charge after learning it would mean a prison term was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to serve three months in jail during a sentencing hearing Monday, July 27, 2020, in Barron County Circuit Court.
Sharron L. Jerdee, 78, was also ordered to repay more than $3,600 in restitution to two people whom she was accused of defrauding, and was also ordered to undergo a cognitive therapy program through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
According to the criminal complaint, a woman came to the Barron County Sheriff’s Department to report an alleged fraud in July 2017.
She told investigators that someone phoned her with news that she had won $9 million and a new car from Publisher’s Clearing House.
The victim was told to call a series of numbers and speak to someone named Ben. After several such calls, she was told she could claim her prize by taking $3,525 in cash to a woman named Mary, whom she was to meet in the parking lot of Walgreens in Rice Lake. “Mary” would be driving a Ford Ranger pickup, the woman was told.
The payment was supposed to cover the taxes on the car, which would be delivered to the woman’s home later the same evening.
The victim went to the meeting place, where she met a woman later identified as the defendant. The victim turned the money over to “Mary,” but later wondered if she had been defrauded.
She called Publisher’s Clearing House, which informed her the transaction was a scam, and that she should report it to police.
A week later, police got a call from a Barron man who described a similar phone call. The man talked with a caller named “Ben,” who gave him instructions to call a number and enter a series of codes to secure his winnings.
When he did so, he got a pre-recorded message indicating he had won $9 million and a car. He was told to go to Walmart in Rice Lake and pay a woman $495 to cover shipping, handling and processing fees.
Detectives advised the Barron man to follow through on the phone call, then staked out the Walmart lot to watch for an older Ford Ranger pickup.
Eventually, police spotted the truck, which was allegedly driven by the defendant. When the officer approached the defendant, she was talking on her phone. The officer instructed her to hand over the phone, and then heard the voice of what sounded like a man with a foreign accent. The call then disconnected.
The defendant said that the man on the phone had instructed her to drive to Walmart and meet a man driving a white Cadillac. She told the detective that she didn’t know whom she was supposed to meet, but she had done this sort of thing before.
The defendant said “she had been ripped off herself and was simply trying to get her money back.”
She allegedly admitted to taking $3,525.25 from the first victim and was then instructed by “Ben” to mail the money to a location in Ohio.
Court records show Jerdee withdrew a guilty plea in January 2019, after a presentence investigation recommended a seven-year sentence, including prison time and probation.
According to court documents, the judge didn’t “believe (the defendant) has knowingly, freely and intelligently pleaded to the charges and cannot sentence her to charges in which she feels victimized as well.”
Jerdee was later found guilty in a February 2020 jury trial.