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What the Crosby mayor was thinking when he quit

The attorney for Crosby's mayor explained Wednesday what was going through his client's head when he resigned. Ed Shaw is the defense attorney for Jim Hunter, who was elected in 2016 but resigned via a letter sent Friday to the city council. Hunt...

Crosby Mayor Jim Hunter is pictured at an April meeting of the Crosby City Council. Zach Kayser/Brainerd Dispatch
Crosby Mayor Jim Hunter is pictured at an April meeting of the Crosby City Council. Zach Kayser/Brainerd Dispatch

The attorney for Crosby's mayor explained Wednesday what was going through his client's head when he resigned.

Ed Shaw is the defense attorney for Jim Hunter, who was elected in 2016 but resigned via a letter sent Friday to the city council. Hunter was arrested in March and charged with felony theft by swindle, assault and several other charges. Until Friday, Hunter denied calls for him to step down.

"One doesn't want to be an elected official, a mayor, unless they can make progress and get things done for a community," Shaw said. "Crosby is so divided now that it's hard for anyone to do that."

Shaw also referenced what he called personal attacks against Hunter, an unaccountable city staff, and "an unwillingness of the majority of the council to, frankly, do their jobs-to hold city staff accountable."

Asked to name a specific breaking point that prompted Hunter to resign, Shaw cited as an example a July 24 city council meeting during which Hunter brought up the ongoing legal fees associated with the Crosby police officer Jesse Smith arbitration case. The case had been recently decided after Smith fought a protracted battle with the city over his termination from the police department. The Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Hunter angrily accosted Clerk-Treasurer Lisa Sova over expenses from the city human resources attorney and demanded she justify them. According to the minutes of the meeting, Hunter's attack prompted police Chief Kim Coughlin and city council members Bob Novak, Ron Prushek and Paul Heglund to criticize Hunter.

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"Member Novak said that we should always treat each other like ladies and gentlemen and that there is no room this type of interaction," the minutes stated.

The exchange was far short of an "attack," Shaw said.

"That's how backward Crosby has become-you're supposed to let everything go, no matter how rotten, and if you speak up, you're considered (to be) attacking someone," he said.

Acting mayor Ron Prushek said Hunter was not present at Monday's meeting. The plan is to replace Hunter with a city council member, unless no one on the council is interested, Prushek said. In that case, the council would seek letters of intent from community members.

Prushek said one council member, Novak, expressed interest in the post. The council is poised to make an appointment at its next council meeting, Sept. 11. If Novak were to change his mind, Prushek said, the council would solicit letters at that point. The city wasn't considering a special election.

Novak was himself appointed to the city council July 10 following the resignation of council member Jim Goshey.

The criminal charges filed in Crow Wing County Court in March against Hunter weaved allegations of a love affair intertwined with an illegal financial scheme, culminating in confrontation and gunplay. Together with alleged lover and accomplice Candice Ann McCartan, Hunter reportedly ran a confidence trick against her husband, a criminal complaint stated.

Thomas McCartan reported Hunter for a number of alleged crimes, chiefly the swindling of $90,000.

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Thomas McCartan told police that his wife and Hunter convinced him to purchase Buy Sell Trade, one of Hunter's businesses on 2 East Main St. in Crosby.

Hunter's pitch was that owning the store would be steady income, and that it would help fix their credit problems, according to the criminal complaint. Hunter allegedly got Thomas McCartan to believe the store made $8,000 and $12,000 a month in revenue.

Hunter also reportedly told Thomas McCartan the sale price was $45,000. But several days later, after Thomas McCartan had already signed the sale documents, he found out he was actually required to pay Hunter $90,000 via a lien placed on his home.

As Thomas McCartan was divorcing Candice McCartan, his divorce attorney examined the sale documents, and it turned out what Thomas McCartan had actually bought was the inventory of the store, some computers, the cash register and the ATM machine. The value of the purchase was between $5,000 and $7,000, his attorney told him-a far cry from the $90,000 he was supposed to pay.

A later conversation between Hunter and Thomas McCartan's son allegedly resulted in Hunter pointing a handgun toward him with his finger on the trigger.

Shaw said Hunter plans to stay in Crosby. A hearing for Hunter's case is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Related Topics: CROSBY
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