UPDATE: Wednesday, 11:00 AM, January 29, 2014
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A trial is scheduled to begin for a Portage County man accused of cashing the Social Security checks of his mother-in-law, who hasn't been heard from in about 30 years and is presumed dead.
The trial for 72-year-old Ronald Disher begins Wednesday. It's expected to last three days.
He, his wife and brother-in-law were accused of cashing Marie Jost's Social Security checks for years, collecting as much as $175,000. The Social Security Administration contacted Portage County authorities in 2012 after its efforts to confirm that Jost was still alive went nowhere.
Jost's son was found not guilty of similar charges last month by reason of mental defect. Charges again Disher's wife were dismissed of mental issues.
A message left with Disher's defense attorney, Gary Kryshak, was not immediately returned.
A jury trial is expected to begin in January for one of three people accused of cashing a missing person's Social Security checks.
Ronald Disher, 72, Delores Disher, 70 and Charles Jost, 67, are all accused of cashing more than $175,000 worth of their missing mother's Social Security checks. Their mother-in-law, and mother, respectively, has not been since the 1980s.
An investigation began in August 2012, after the Portage County Sheriff's Office said they were contacted by the United States Social Security Administration asking for assistance in locating Marie Jost after after several pieces of mail went unanswered. Marie, who would now be 102, has not used medical benefits since 1980.
On August 30, 2012 Deputies went to Marie's Amherst Junction home and made contact with her son, Charles. He explained that Marie was alive and well and on a trip with her other son, Theodore, who is 74, and also hasn't been seen since the 1980s.
Investigators also questioned Marie's daughter and son-in-law, Ronald and Delores Disher at their Almond home.
Deputies say information provided by family members has been inconsistent. Dolores Disher first told investigators she saw her mother less than a year ago. Then she changed her story, saying she hadn't seen her since her sister's funeral in 1980.
The three are charged with theft, mail fraud, forgery, and unauthorized use of an individual's personal document.
In September 2012, the State Crime Lab was at Charles' property. Captain Dale O'Kray from the Portage County Sheriff's Department says cadaver dogs picked up spots of interest, but no human remains have been found. Captain O'Kray says the search for evidence will be slow one, as Charles Jost was a hoarder.
Ronald Disher appeared in Portage County Circuit Court Monday for what was supposed to be a plea deal however, that hearing was canceled and a trial date was set. Monday in court, Ronald Disher's attorney asked for his client's bond to be modified. That request was denied after the state argued Disher is a threat to the community. Disher remains behind bars on a $20,000 cash bond.
In July, Delores was found not competent to stand trial and her case has been suspended until she can be brought to a level of competency.
Charles Jost is expected to reached a plea deal in court Tuesday.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or last know location of either Marie or Theodore Jost is urged to contact the Portage County Sheriff’s Office at (715) 346-1400. Detectives are working to put together a time line of the last time the two were heard from.
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