Hunter Brian Hanson of Leeds, N.D., seemed like a young entrepreneur headed for greatness.
At 22, he already owned Midwest Grain Trading in Devils Lake, a roving grain trader, and NoDak Grain, which was based in Rugby and operated licensed grain warehouses in Tunbridge and Rohrville.
And he had an interest in other businesses as well, including Midwest Hauling & Transport, a trucking firm in Sheyenne, Hanson Motors, a car dealership in Belcourt, and Double HH Cattle, Northern Steam and Dakota Biodiesel.
But it appears that his financial plans had a critical flaw: They were built on a scheme that bilked about 60 farmers, grain elevators and brokers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada out of about $11.4 million, according to federal court records unsealed Monday in Bismarck.
Hanson was charged June 7 with wire fraud and money laundering, which carry maximum prison terms of 20 years in federal prison. He agreed to plead guilty to those charges and to repay $11,405,134.72 on an installment plan, and not to appeal if the sentence fell within recommended sentencing guidelines.
The range was not stated in the plea agreement but it's likely to be substantial. While Hanson will get credit for quickly accepting responsibility for his crimes, the guidelines will be bumped upward because of the large number of victims and the substantial losses.
Prosecutors agreed not to seek additional charges against Hanson that took place before the scheme was charged, which ran throughout 2018.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission shut down Hanson's businesses after it received reports of bounced checks, according to AgWeek.
Hanson's initial appearance is set for Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clare R. Hochhalter in Bismarck. A plea hearing is scheduled for July 30, followed by sentencing Nov. 12, before Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493