“Mr. Hunter, you could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo.”
With those words still skipping through the air, Grand Traverse County Circuit Court Judge Philip E. Rodgers, Jr., wiped the tentative smile off David Lee Hunter's face with a 23-60 month prison sentence.
Instead of taking his case before a jury, Hunter plead guilty in September to two felony counts of conversion by false pretenses. In return, the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney agreed to drop four additional felony counts.
Hunter parlayed a one-month rental of a home at 412 Wadsworth Street in Traverse City into a Craiglist scam that ensnared six people in a web of deception.
While none of Hunter's Craigslist victims were in court during this morning's hearing, a pre-sentence investigation report and victim impact statements were submitted to Rodgers for review. In addition, Hunter's mother, Kathleen, submitted a statement to the court this morning shortly before the hearing.
Hunter's presentence report, required before sentencing anyone charged with a felony, included the following information:
An evaluation of and a prognosis for the person's adjustment in the
community based on factual information contained in the report;
(2) A specific written recommendation for disposition;
(3) A statement by the prosecuting attorney on the applicability of any consecutive sentencing provision;
A statement concerning any physical or emotional injury or economic
loss suffered by the victims, if provided by the victims;
(5) A victim's impact statement, if requested by the victim or victims;
(6) An objective description of the offense;
(7) The defendant's version of the offense;
(8) A full description of defendant's prior criminal record;
(9) The status of all criminal charges pending against the defendant; and
(10) A personal profile of the defendant.
Hunter's court-appointed attorney, Shawn Worden, objected to the inclusion of "victim impact statements not related to the case". Worden allowed that while that the unrelated "extraneous statements" contained "demeaning things" about Hunter, none had ever resulted in criminal charges or prosecution. Worden argued that the "wild, unsubstantiated" statements not be considered when determining Hunter's sentence.
Grand Traverse County Deputy Civil Counsel Christopher Forsyth countered Worden's objection, defending the statements as important tools in revealing Hunter's attitude toward his "criminal behavior and his social and personal history."
Forsyth asked Rodgers to consider the additional statements when determining Hunter's sentence.
Worden asked Rodgers to dismiss the "extrinsic victim statement" and their allegations of "big amounts" taken by Hunter and his "atrocious conduct".
And then the skies opened up and the gods of chicanery smiled down on your girl Miss Fortune--David Lee Hunter faced the judge and began a Kanye-like rant that could only have been fueled by some exotic form of mental colon blow.
THE WEB I WEAVED...
With his shaved head shining like the top of New York's Chrysler Building, Hunter withstood Rodgers' withering take on his character. Echoing Worden's comment, Rodgers allowed that he had read "wild, unsubstantiated statements" in Hunter's version of the events.
Rodgers listened as the kleptopath Hunter launched into a convoluted tale of how he was simply working "to make his victims whole". Hunter revealed his ignorance of commonly accepted past participles while admitting to Rodgers that he "couldn't stop the web I had weaved from unraveling".
Hunter claimed that he had held an open house and did not anticipate that six people would all want to rent the property. Claiming to be working with property management company, Hunter said that he had found substitute properties for five of his prospective tenants.
He told Rodgers that he could produce "emails" that would prove his version of the story if he "could only have access to his computer".
Hunter told the judge about his "two beautiful daughters", conveniently leaving out the fact that he's woefully behind in child support to the mothers of both children.
Hunter explained that he pulled the Craigslist scam to help his former girlfriend out with some financial "challenges", although he offered no proof of his claim.
When asked by Rodgers why he missed an important court date in early December 2012, Hunter claimed that he had been in Ann Arbor "for his uncle's funeral" and couldn't get back to Traverse City "because it was snowing". Rodgers pushed back, pressing Hunter about missing subsequent court dates and ultimately jumping bond and "running away".
Hunter said that he ran because a "psycho, bat-shit crazy blogger" had begun to write about him, and he got all "paranoid, worked up, and began to stutter". Hunter also claimed that my "ex-wife is behind this too, laughing her butt off right now". [NOTE: Hunter had already run before Miss Fortune's first post on his Craiglist scam appeared on December 26, 2012.]
Hunter said he asked his attorney to "subpoena this woman" (referring to your girl Miss Fortune), but was told by him that the blog was "irrelevant".
Hunter went on, trying to dazzle Rodgers like he'd tried with his many victims. Full of stories that he'd run companies with "Steve Finnk, a childhood friend I've known since summer camp", Hunter claimed to make anywhere between "$5,000 to $50,000 a month". Hunter even name-checked Walt Doyle, the former CEO of Where, which was acquired in April by PayPal.
Judge Rodgers interrupted, and reminded Hunter that he was standing next to a "court appointed attorney", and asked Hunter if he was indigent.
Hunter answered and told Rodgers he was.
And that was all that the Honorable Philip E. Rodgers, Jr. was having from David Lee Hunter.
Reviewing Hunter's version of the events, Rodgers said he didn't know if Hunter was "delusional of the smoothest con man he'd ever met". Either way, Rodgers said Hunter was "not normal".
David Lee Hunter, the man who in the past had claimed to be a movie producer, a record mogul, a property owner, stood in silence while Rodgers reminded Hunter that he'd never "accepted responsibility" for his Craigslist scam. In addition, the additional victim impact statements indicated that Hunter had a "long history in California and Hawaii" of scamming money from people, and then "walking away from victims left with nothing".
Rodgers cited Hunter's claim of being a "business partner" of New York City Michael Bloomberg as "delusional". Rodgers told Hunter that although he recognized his intelligence, there were no "Mensa cells" in prison. Rodgers told Hunter he could have applied himself to a business, "like Amway", and been legitimately successful.
Rejecting the 10-23 month sentence recommendation, Rodgers stated Hunter was "inconsistently eligible for boot camp" and sentenced him to 23-60 months in prison. In addition, Hunter will have to repay the remaining $8,079.32 in restitution to his victims.
Hunter has 42 days to appeal his sentence.