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Hunter Hanson (courtesy of McLean County Jail)

Feds request no bond for grain trader Hunter Hanson; bond hearing is Thursday

BISMARCK, N.D.—Federal prosecutors have asked that grain trader Hunter Hanson be detained and not eligible for bond release prior to his change of plea hearing in five weeks.

Magistrate Judge Clare Hochhalter said Hanson will be held in the Burleigh County Detention Center until a bond hearing at 9 a.m., Thursday, June 20, in Bismarck. The separate change of plea hearing is at 9:15 a.m., July 30, in Bismarck.

Hanson, who has had residences in Leeds, N.D., and West Fargo, N.D., is accused of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with his Midwest Grain Trading business, a roving grain buyer, and NoDak Grain, a warehouse company. Farmer and grain elevator claimants say he owes 60 farmers and elevator operators and others about $11.4 million for trades made in 2018 in which he didn't pay or paid with checks that bounced.

North Dakota Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan O'Konek, in an arraignment hearing on June 18 in Bismarck, asked for detention on grounds that Hanson to be a flight risk and might "obstruct justice by hiding assets."

Hanson turned age 22 in May in the McLean County Jail, where her had faced criminal charges of fraud in four North Dakota counties. McLean County State's Attorney Ladd Erickson said his cases will now be withdrawn in light of the federal charges.

In court in Bismarck, Hanson sat in a striped shirt, jeans, handcuffs and leg shackles, next to lawyer Lucas Wynne of Fargo, and flanked by U.S. marshals. A state Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigator sat in the back of the room.

Wynne asked to allow bond, and said Hanson is not a flight risk because he has appeared for earlier court hearings in North Dakota.

Hochhalter noted that the wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and that the money laundering charge has a 20-year maximum sentence and $500,000 fine.

Attorney Nick Chase in Fargo on June 17 indicated Hanson intends to plead guilty to the charges. The case will be handled in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, including full restitution.