New details in Columbus bust by feds

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  "They ended up using a ram to take out the center part of the door and several other men poured in with guns."

Eric Hunter reveals how federal agents burst into his midtown Columbus home this week and took his father, Stephen Hunter, into custody.

Authorities say Hunter, a native of Ocala, Florida was arrested in 2008 by the IRS and charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

"The IRS was investigating a group of people for a large tax evasion scheme that involved creating false checks that they would sell to people to pay their taxes. It turns out to be, from what I understand, about $1.1 billion worth, an attempted defrauding of the IRS," said Rob Fernandez, Commander of the U.S. Marshals Service's Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force in Washington, D. C.

When Hunter didn't show up for a trial date in November, that's when the U.S. Marshals say they started tracking him.

His son says his dad was coming to Columbus to celebrate a family birthday and was not hiding. But the feds paint a different picture.

"He was definitely on the run. He was staying away from his house and our guys were using all of their normal investigative means- interviews and surveillance. They knew he was not getting near his house in Ocala. There was an officer safety bulletin about Mister Hunter that he had made threats that he would kill any law enforcement that came on to his property," Fernandez said.

"He is who I would consider to be my greatest role mole- a man of humility, a man of compassion and care for others. Our plan is to support him," said his son.

Stephen Hunter will be taken back to Washington, D.C. at some point, where he'll go in front of a District Court Magistrate.

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service tell me Hunter will most likely remain in the custody of the United States until his trial date which has now been postponed till April.

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