Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Fraud charges follow heroic rescue of tree trimmers in Rogers

The rescue happened on March 21, 2018.
Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 1.48.09 PM

After two tree trimmers were heroically rescued after being trapped in a freezing pond, one of them allegedly set about scamming the other.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday that his office has charged a Rogers couple with insurance fraud and theft by swindle in relation to a near-death accident on Mar. 21, 2018. 

Jerry Gould, 65, the owner of Gould's Tree Service in Rogers, and his wife, 62-year-old Lorraine Gould, who has the power to sign documents on behalf of the company, are accused of withholding workers' compensation that was earmarked for their injured employee. 

The accident happened Mar. 21, 2018, when Jerry Gould and employee Will Hamer were trimming trees in Rogers when the lift he was operating with a remote control slid down an icy hill and overturned into a partially frozen pond.

Gould and Hamer were trapped underneath the lift. While Gould was able to free himself, Hamer was trapped with water up to his nostrils. 

A firefighter quick to the scene held the man's head above water, with FOX 9 9 reporting that the firefighter and Hamer both suffered from hypothermia. As rescue efforts continued, Hamer slid deeper into the water, with the chief of police in Big Lake helping to keep his head from submerging. 

In all, Hamer was in the freezing water for one hour and seven minutes. 

The criminal complaint notes that Hamer had given first responders permission to amputate his arm, which was trapped under the heavy tree lift. Fortunately, it didn't come to it, although Fox 9 says doctors were about two minutes from making that difficult decision when Hamer was freed. 

Hamer suffered a hyperextended neck and had multiple surgeries on his pelvis, arm and shoulder, in addition to suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress. 

Follow Bring Me The News on LinkedIn

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office accuses the Goulds of withholding workers' compensation by listing Hamer as a part-time employee when he was full time.

They also "intentionally lied" about his wages and hours worked, according to Freeman, who cited information from the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau's investigation. 

The alleged deceit cost Hamer more than $4,000 over the four months following the incident. 

“This case is exhibit A on how cheating the government hurts real people,” Freeman said in a release.

"This worker suffered terribly from an accident on the job and originally received only half of what he should have because his employer lied on the forms to a state-backed insurance program. The Commerce Fraud Bureau agents did a great job getting to the bottom of this and we will prosecute the case vigorously.”

Next Up

ambulance

Motorist dead after crashing into utility pole in south Minneapolis

The crash happened Saturday night in the South Uptown neighborhood.

police lights

St. Cloud mother arrested after 3-month-old baby found dead

Officers discovered the baby during a welfare check Sunday.

Merwin Liquors Mounds View

Police shoot, kill man inside Mounds View liquor store

It follows an alleged armed carjacking outside a nearby Aldi.

Dalvin Cook

Report: Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder, will undergo MRI

The Vikings running back was carted off the field in Sunday's loss to the 49ers.

Kirk Cousins

Watch: Kirk Cousins lines up under guard on critical 4th down play

Kirk Cousins went "Full Kirk" at the worst possible time.

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook injured, Vikings drop crucial game against 49ers

The Vikings couldn't stop the Niners' rushing attack in a 34-26 loss.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Related

Flickr - utility pole power line

Tree trimmer electrocuted in fatal accident in Big Lake Township

The 33-year-old was reportedly cutting branches from an evergreen at the time.

court gavel

Owner of Waseca travel agency charged with wire fraud

Harald Schumacher allegedly misappropriated nearly $500,000 in commissions owed to travel agents he worked with.

Tree trimmer killed by flying debris in freak accident in Richfield

It happened just before 3 p.m. in south metro suburb.

small unit support vehicle

600+ rescued from stranded vehicles; trains, 'tank' also stuck

There's a county-by-county list showing how many people were rescued.

Alex, Curt and Steven Boesl

3 Minnesotans honored with Carnegie Medals for heroic acts

The award is the highest honor for civilian heroism in North America.

Logs wood

Logging worker rescued after equipment breaks through ice, cab fills with water

Roy Davis was rescued by coworkers after falling through ice in Lake Hattie Township.

water rescue in Lac qui Parle County

Couple rescued from flooding after ignoring road closed sign

It happened in western Minnesota, about 150 miles from the Twin Cities.