Facing charges that he carried out a criminal swindle of nearly $90,000, the mayor of Crosby, Minn., had vowed to continue in office.
But James Hunter reconsidered, and resigned last week in a letter submitted to city officials by his attorney.
“Mr. Hunter has always been proud to be a part of the Crosby community and to serve the citizens of Crosby,” the letter said. “Mr. Hunter wishes all of the citizens of Crosby the best moving forward.”
Hunter, 68, was elected mayor of the central Minnesota city of 2,400 residents in November, winning a three-way race with 37 percent of the vote. He had been in office only a few months when he was charged with a scheme to con his alleged lover’s husband out of nearly $90,000.
Hunter owns a convenience store, the “Buy, Sell, Trade” store, and several other businesses in town, including a used-car lot.
The criminal complaint said that Hunter and Candice McCartan persuaded her husband, Tom McCartan, to buy Hunter’s convenience store for $90,000. Tom McCartan signed legal documents prepared by Hunter to close the deal, giving Hunter a $90,000 lien on his home.
Candice McCartan left her husband the next week and moved in with Hunter, the complaint said. While consulting an attorney for a divorce, Tom McCartan discovered that he hadn’t actually bought Hunter’s store. The documents he signed merely gave him ownership of the store’s inventory, the cash register and an ATM, all worth about $5,000.
Hunter’s attorney, Ed Shaw, said the ex-mayor is the victim of a poisonous political climate in the city. “Crosby politics have been extremely divisive for a long time,” Shaw said. “Obviously, that’s a big part of the accusations against Mr. Hunter. It’s hard to get things done and move the city ahead in a situation like that. The constant conflict, often being attacked at meetings — it wears on somebody. Being mayor in that kind of environment just got to be too difficult.”
City Council Member Ron Prushek is serving as acting mayor until an election can be held.
Shaw, meanwhile, said Hunter will vigorously fight the charges against him. “The complaint against Mr. Hunter has got some pretty lurid stuff,” he said. “Anyone can make an accusation. But we live in a system where you have to back that up. And the state is not going to be able to back it up.”