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Big Wolf Lake resort guests to be reimbursed in full

Christopher Lee Dunker

Minnesotans who booked reservations at a now defunct Hubbard County resort last year will get their money back.

A Hermantown man finished making $17,318.59 in restitution to guests who pre-paid for their reservations at BigWolf Lake Resort in northeastern Hubbard County.

The resort underwent a foreclosure action shortly after that and went belly up.

Christopher Lee Dunker, 29, pleaded guilty in Hubbard County District Court in March to theft, for taking guest deposits.

Big Wolf Resort in northeastern Hubbard County advertised on its website for summer rentals while it was being foreclosed on, and told prospective renters if they paid all the fees up front, they'd be entitled to a discount.

Dunker, who was allegedly assuming management and/or ownership of the resort at the time, stopped short of apologizing in court Monday.

"When this happened we didn't realize what would happen with the resort in foreclosure," he told Judge Robert Tiffany. "We didn't intend this to happen."

The theft charge will be dismissed if Dunker is law-abiding for the next 18 months.

"Mr. Dunker, no matter what those circumstances were, you had to know you couldn't continue to maintain control of that money," Tiffany scolded the defendant.

Dunker's probation was later amended to be unsupervised. Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne told the judge Dunker might lose his job in the Oil Patch of western North Dakota if he had to report back regularly to a probation officer.

Tiffany grudgingly agreed.

Dunker has a litany of criminal convictions including sale of a controlled substance in 2005, three gaming violations filed by the DNR, a vehicle theft and burglary conviction in 2001, another theft conviction in 2005 and numerous traffic offenses.

He is also being investigated in a Duluth case in which a contractor allegedly charged an elderly Duluth homeowner $40,000 in repairs that were never completed. The homeowners said they had to pay an additional $30,000 to complete the work to specifications.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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