CROSBY, Minn. (KMSP) - The mayor of Crosby, Minnesota says he will fight criminal charges stemming from a months-long investigation by his own police department.
James (Jim) Hunter, 68, was charged with theft by swindle, assault, and gambling fraud Monday.
According to court documents, Hunter and his girlfriend, 46-year-old Candice McCartan, swindled her husband out of nearly $90,000. McCartan was also charged with one count of theft-by-swindle.
Hunter’s attorney, Ed Shaw, says his client was unfairly targeted by a police investigator with a vendetta against his client, and a jealous ex-husband looking for revenge.
“A closer look at it, it’s pretty thin and it’s pretty obvious there are ulterior motives going on here,” said Shaw. “He’s not guilty of what he’s accused of. I’m confident that’s what the evidence will show.”
Shaw disputes all the charges, including allegations that the transaction between Hunter and Mr. McCartan was theft.
“Just because someone feels they got a bad deal on a transaction, that’s not a criminal matter,” he said. “There’s no claim in here that anybody forced him to sign the documents—put a gun to his head and said you’re going to sign this.”
A week after signing the documents, Candice McCartan told her husband she was leaving him and moving in with Hunter. In divorce settlements, Mr. McCartan was released from his $90,000 obligation to Hunter and asked to pay around $20,000 instead. Candice McCartan then became the sole owner of the business and according to the Secretary of State’s office remains the owner today.
As for the gambling fraud charges against Hunter, the criminal complaint says the mayor paid people to claim the winnings from pulltabs he played at his own store.
“If Mr. Hunter played pull tabs after she owned the business, that’s legal, he’s allowed to do that,” said Shaw.
But Crosby Police investigator Lt. Kevin Randolph said their investigation into gambling fraud is much broader and spans a longer time period than Mr. Shaw realizes.
"The gambling investigation spans a period of more than a year and would cover the time that Hunter owned the business,” said Lt. Randolph. “In addition, there are more crimes covered in the Lawful Gambling Fraud than just the playing of the pull-tabs.”
The assault charge is from a confrontation with McCartan’s adult son. Shaw says his client displayed a pistol in self defense. Shaw also pointed out that his client was granted a restraining order against both the son and ex-husband back in December.
“He’s confronting Mr. Hunter on Mr. Hunter’s vehicle on Mr. Hunter’s property. He’s the aggressor here,” said Shaw.
Police say a verbal dispute does not give Hunter the right to pull a gun on someone.
Hunter owns several businesses in Crosby, Minnesota, and is a well-known businessman. He took office as Crosby’s newest mayor on January 1, 2017.