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Hubbard County resort manager charged with theft

A man who was managing a resort in northeastern Hubbard County has been charged with theft after reports of potential guests sending in deposits while the resort was in foreclosure.

Christopher Lee Dunker, 29, who had been managing Big Wolf Lake Resort, has been charged with theft - Liability for the Crimes of Another in Hubbard County District Court. The felony count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

He was arrested Tuesday, said Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne.

Potential guests found the resort online and several either paid in full because the website was offering a discount or made a $150 non-refundable deposit. Meanwhile, a bank had been foreclosing on the property.

The investigation began in May when Hubbard County Sheriff's Deputies spoke with several potential guests who had found Big Wolf Resort during an Internet search and sent in deposits. Later, guests didn't receive resort information and later discovered the resort was in foreclosure.

A deputy drove to the resort in northern Hubbard County and "observed the property to be vacant with no preparation for the upcoming summer resort season," according to the court complaint.

A deputy spoke with the owner of the resort, Michael John Bydal, who said he was approached by Dunker about purchasing Big Wolf Resort in late 2010. Bydal drafted a document saying Dunker could run and maintain the resort until he could obtain a loan, according to the court complaint.

On June 2, the reservation book to the resort was handed over to the real estate company handling the foreclosure. Bydal said he understood the company would be drafting letters to parties who had reservations to the resort, apologizing for the scam, according to the complaint.

Deputies spoke with other potential guests who made reservations later in June.

In total, the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department took reports from 11 individuals/families regarding Dunker taking payments for the resort. The total amount reported taken is $16,973 according to the report.

According to bank records for Big Wolf Lake Resort, there were consistent withdrawals and charges on the account by Dunker and Bydal equaling the deposit amounts. More than $17,000 was withdrawn at casinos, ATMs and through miscellaneous charges, according to the complaint.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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