Alleged GoFundMe Fraud

Former Police Detective Pleads Not Guilty in GoFundMe Fraud Case

Jerry Esch Gofundme

Back in June, the Nebraska State Police accused former Hastings police detective Jerry Esch of using GoFundMe to pay off his credit card debts under the guise of needing help with medical expenses related to his cancer diagnosis. You read that correctly: Esch did have cancer. However, according to investigators, he did not have expensive out-of-network costs as he claimed in his GoFundMe campaign.

That campaign raised over $21,000 of a $27k goal. Coincidentally, when they started digging, investigators discovered Esch was carrying $27k in credit card debt mostly unrelated to his medical bills.

According to the affidavit in this case, Esch “acknowledged that he requested funds for medical expenses because he knew he was more likely to get donations than if he had truthfully stated his credit card debt and other debt were due to poor financial decisions.”

The 46-year-old has been charged with Class 2A felony theft by deception involving more than $5,000 for the disingenuous GoFundMe campaign.

Just this morning, Esch pleaded not guilty to the charge in Adams County District Court. He’s due back in court on December 15.


  1. Melinda Cook

    He says “I attempted to keep up but as you know, life happens. If it wasn’t for bad luck id have no luck at all. it was just impossible to do. I applied for credit cards and hoped that would get me by until the claims came in. I began to rack up the charges on the credit card and ended up maxing three of them out. The minimum payments got to be so high I couldn’t afford to keep going. After rent, utilities, groceries, child support and all the other necessities – I was in the negative. ” Then at the end he says hes going to use the money to help pay off his credit card bills. I don’t understand why he was charged with deception?

    • As I understand it, he claimed he had significant out-of-network costs (that he was putting on his credit card) but his entire $18k bill was paid by insurance. So that’s where the deception comes in. That said, I find this pretty extreme. There are so many people who are completely fabricating stories getting away with it, and here this guy really did have cancer.

  2. Melinda Cook

    I know! Based on what he said poor guy had his leg amputated, was going through a child custody fight etc (don’t know him). From what I understand from reading it, was the insurance didn’t pay for the several drug trials he participated in. Which from my experience/understanding is quite common. Also it could be that he initially thought his insurance wouldn’t pay. I know from 1st hand experience how insurance companies can do the back and forth game. As much as he went through and as many procedures he had I find it hard to believe that $18,000 covered all his medical. I don’t know it just seems harsh. I think he may have also lost his job over it 🙁

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