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How the Hunter Hanson grain fraud case evolved

2015 —

May 30 — Graduates from New Rockford (N.D.) High School, working after school for nearby elevators. 

July 1 — Registers “Dakota Biodiesel” with state. It is the first of a series of businesses he would register at fake addresses.

October — Hires on at Equity Cooperative Elevator Co., Sheyenne, N.D., becomes a member of the Sheyenne Volunteer Fire Department.

2016 —

June 21 — Is the last employee on duty the night the Equity Cooperative Elevator burns to the ground but cause is not determined. Hanson soon quits the elevator, after promising he’d stay.

Sept. 13 — Approaches Minnewaukan, N.D., City Council about purchasing several acres in their industrial park, so he could build a $2 million biodiesel plant, with a convenience store and bait shop.

Nov. 24 — Hired at Allied Grain of Barlow, N.D., south of New Rockford.

2017 —

Feb. 14 — Minnewaukan biodiesel land sale is approved, but project fizzles when Hanson fails to produce financial underpinnings. 

March 21 — Registers “Midwest Grain Trading” name with state, starts trading grain without the required license.

April 13 — Fired by Allied Grain for using their grain testing equipment without authorization.

May 16 — Complaints filed with state over Midwest Grain Trading operating without a license. Resumes trading grain after obtaining a $50,000 bond.

November — Starts operating a facility at defunct Tunbridge (N.D.) Farmers Co-op Elevator.

2018 —

February  — Purchases the first of 18 vehicles from Ford dealer at Rugby, N.D.; would purchase others at Devils Lake, N.D., and elsewhere. Purchases the first of a series of several camper trailers from Rugby Homes, often trading them within months at losses. 

April 21 — Pays $84,000 for rare 32HP Reeves steam “traction engine” in an online auction. (The machine would sell for $53,000 in a sheriff’s auction in Fargo on Aug. 28, 2019.)

June 25 — Acquires a warehouse license for the Tunbridge, location. Arranges sales through a broker, East Central Grain Marketing.

July 6 — Purchases the first of several farmstead properties in the Leeds, N.D., area.

July 11 — Purchases a Park Model home for $70,965, which goes on a Leeds, N.D., acreage.

Aug. 11 — Travels to Paris during weeklong trip with his girlfriend.

Aug. 23 — Registers “Hanson Motors” at Leeds.

Aug. 24 — Pays $100,000 for a grain elevator at Rohrville, N.D.

Aug. 30 — Registers “NoDak Grain,” warehouse license to include Rohrville and Tunbridge locations.

September — Rents apartment in West Fargo, N.D. 

Sept. 11 — Acquires warehouse license, indicates he has 30 trucks on the road. Authorities say he trades 1.25 million bushels of grain in August and September.

Sept. 12 — Rear-ends a family vehicle while westbound on Highway 2 east of Devils Lake. The farm family drives into ditch to avoid the collision. Hanson rolls the pickup and its trailer containing steam machine equipment. The farmer helps extricate Hanson from his truck to go to the hospital. The vehicle is totaled. Authorities say he had been distracted by an electronic device.

Oct. 1 — Opens Hanson Motors at Belcourt, N.D. Hanson travels to auctions in Phoenix and Las Vegas to purchase vehicles for sale.

Oct. 25 — Purchases a former flower shop in Leeds, to make into an office.

November Draws complaints from farmers, elevators because he’s failed to pay for grain on time. Farmers file civil claims in various counties.

Nov. 9 — Blames the company’s problems on a water pump failure and spoiled grain in the Rohrville facility.

Nov. 13 — Tells East Central Grain Marketing that his staff has written checks from the wrong accounts.

Nov. 21 State issues cease and desist order against Hanson’s grain trading businesses.

Dec. 9 — State names a trustee in case; outlines plan for submitting claims.

Dec. 10 — Charged in Mountrail County for writing bad checks for $94,000 to United Quality Cooperative.

Dec. 27 — Judge declines Hanson’s request to leave the state to attend a Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers game in Minneapolis.

2019 —

March — Travels to California in a Rolls Royce, possibly in violation of his Mountrail County bond order, according to an employee.

April 2 — Tells employee to destroy a box of grain records being sought by the state.

April 4 — Attends Mountrail County hearing and agrees to criminal NSF check payment schedule. Later, arrested in Pierce County on separate McLean/Sheridan county charges.

April 5 — Transferred to McLean County jail, Washburn.

June 18 — Arraigned on federal fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Bismarck. Transferred to the Burleigh County Detention Center, Bismarck.

July 30 — Pleads guilty on federal charges, order to pay $11.1 million in restitution. Released to his father’s custody, restricted with GPS.

Oct. 15 — Prosecutors recommended sentence of 6.5 to eight years in prison

Nov. 12 — Scheduled for sentencing on federal charges.

To watch Mikkel Pates' full interview with Hunter Hanson from November 2018, click here.