While he awaits his next court hearing for a felony assault and swindle case, Crosby Mayor Jim Hunter has run afoul of the law again.
Hunter was ticketed for providing a false police report regarding an encounter with the man he is accused of swindling out of $90,000.
Crosby Dairy Queen surveillance video shows Hunter, 68, in the June 23 encounter with Thomas McCartan. Hunter was arrested in March and booked in the Crow Wing County Jail on three felonies-theft by swindle, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and lawful gambling fraud crimes. He stayed on as mayor despite calls for him to step down. At a council meeting, Hunter said he wouldn't resign and the decisions he makes as a member of the council have nothing to do with his personal issues.
The encounter video-provided to media by Hunter's lawyer, Ed Shaw-appears to be footage of two men talking while in line at a fast food place. The most eventful part of the tape is an unrelated moment when a female Dairy Queen employee rushes around the counter and gives a passionate hug to a male customer.
Shaw submitted the video to the media as evidence to back up his and his client's account of the events that transpired near and inside the Crosby Dairy Queen. Shaw said in the news release the restraining order Hunter was granted against McCartan states McCartan shall not harass Hunter.
Hunter alleged McCartan gave him "the finger" from his yard as Hunter drove by on his way to the restaurant. McCartan then reportedly followed Hunter from his nearby residence into the restaurant, stood near him and talked to him.
Hunter told two responding officers McCartan entered the restaurant while Hunter was waiting in line to place a food order. Officers said Hunter also claimed McCartan pushed him with his shoulder.
The Crosby Police Department, which cited Hunter for giving a false police report, disagreed. "The video clearly showed that Hunter turned and spoke to McCartan first," the Crosby Police Department stated in a release Friday.
The Crosby Police Department pointed out the harassment restraining order against McCartan only prohibits McCartan from coming to Hunter's home or business-it doesn't prohibit McCartan from coming into contact with Hunter.
"McCartan's appearance at the business is not in and of itself a violation of the HRO," the release stated.
Shaw's release stated the HRO prohibits "any contact" with Hunter.
"Mr. McCartan has already plead (sic) guilty to a violation of the harassment restraining order, he received a stay of adjudication, I believe that conditions of the stay include that he have no same or similar offenses, and comply with the terms of the harassment restraining order," Shaw wrote in a release.
The Crosby police release implies perhaps it was Hunter who violated his own restraining order.
"Officers are aware that Hunter is under court order, preventing him from having any contact, including verbal contact, with McCartan," according to the department release. "The video clearly showed that Hunter turned and spoke to McCartan first."
The police also disputed Hunter's claim that McCartan flipped him off as Hunter drove by him.
"After reviewing additional video footage that shows James Hunter driving by Thomas McCartan's house, there is no evidence that shows McCartan was in his yard at the time, much less making any gestures to Hunter," the Crosby police said in the release.
In Shaw's release, he continued his assertion the Crosby police leadership has it in for Hunter. Shaw stated there is no rational explanation for Hunter being charged with the misdemeanor crime for reporting McCartan. Shaw stated he believes McCartan violated the restraining order by entering the Dairy Queen when Hunter was already there.
"I would expect that the ticket was approved by the leadership of the department, Lieutenant Randolph or Chief Coughlin. ... I am concerned that it appears that the law is not being enforced consistently and fairly within the city of Crosby," Shaw wrote in the release. "It is essential to any community that citizens be able to trust law enforcement, and count on fair enforcement of the laws."