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Facing multiple felony charges, an embattled Minn. mayor was barred from a city council meeting

Crosby Mayor Jim Hunter is pictured at an April meeting of the Crosby City Council. Zach Kayser / Forum News Service

CROSBY, Minn. — The saga of Crosby mayor Jim Hunter, who was arrested in March on multiple felony charges, took another turn Thursday when the city attorney barred him from a city council meeting.

A letter from Hunter's attorney, Ed Shaw of Brainerd, said Hunter had been told that if he persisted in trying to attend the meeting Thursday he would be removed by police.

"As Mr. Hunter is the Mayor of Crosby, he not only has a right, but a duty to be present at all Crosby City Council meetings or any proceeding regarding city business," the letter said. "You, or whatever individual or entity instructed you, to remove Mr. Hunter has no authority to remove the mayor from a council meeting or any proceeding regarding city business."

In the letter, Shaw threatened legal action if there were any more attempts to keep Hunter from meetings.

Hunter said he arrived at the 3 p.m meeting only to have City Attorney Joseph Langel pull him outside and tell him although he could attend the meeting briefly at the opening, he would have to leave because of a conflict of interest stemming from the charges filed against him.

Then, Hunter recalled, he managed to talk to council member and ally Jim Traylor and got him to leave the meeting, thereby denying the rest of the council a quorum. A quorum, or required number of members present, is necessary for most city council business of importance.

Hunter said he was not positive what the meeting was about, but thought it was a personnel issue. He did not think the meeting was about him.

Council member Paul Heglund, a vocal Hunter critic who has called for the mayor's resignation, confirmed that Hunter had been barred by the city attorney on the grounds of conflict of interest. However, Heglund declined to specify what the subject of the meeting was and said he wasn't legally allowed to disclose it.

Heglund said it was uncalled for that Hunter walked out of the meeting and took Traylor with him.

"I think it's a bunch of bull---- that the mayor didn't stick around for the meeting," he said.

Heglund shouted out Traylor's first and last name as Traylor followed Hunter out of the meeting—but Traylor didn't turn around or acknowledge him, Heglund said. Since Traylor's absence denied the council a quorum of members, the meeting was cancelled.

"They left us hanging," Heglund said, questioning the wasted money of not having a meeting.

In March, Hunter was charged felony second degree assault with a dangerous weapon, felony theft by swindle, felony receiving stolen property, felony lawful gambling fraud, and gross misdemeanor engaging in the business of a vehicle financing company without a license. The criminal charges stem from the 2016 sale of his business, Buy, Sale Trade, to Thomas and Candice McCartan, a then-married couple who have since filed for divorce. Thomas McCartan and the police and the county prosecutor said it was a con, Hunter and his attorney said it was a legit deal that McCartan later regretted. There was then a months-long feud between Hunter, Thomas McCartan, and McCartan's adult son. The criminal complaint alleges—and Hunter denies—that Hunter had an affair with Candice McCartan.