After video is played, federal judge refuses to grant bond to Hunter

By Joe Gorman


His mother and pastor testified Friday that Brian Hunter has strong family ties and helps his family and his church, but they did not see a video played in federal court that Hunter made last June where he went on a profanity-laced rant against a woman he thought was accusing him of being an informant.

The video, played before Magistrate Judge George Limbert in a detention hearing for Hunter, who is facing drug and conspiracy charges, was so unsettling that at several points even he had his head down on the defense table in shame, and he squirmed in his cuffs as well. Several family members also seemed shocked, too.

Hunter, 44, one of 19 defendants who were rounded up last week in two separate drug cases, was the only defendant who had his hearing. When it was over, Limbert declared that he would not grant Hunter bond not because he feared Hunter is a flight risk, but because he is a danger to the community.

Limbert said the video was the deciding factor in his decision.

Hunter, along with another person he was indicted with, Aaron Rogers, 47, were once members of a gang called the Ready Rock Boys, 10 of whom served lengthy federal prison sentences in the 1990s for bringing cocaine into Youngstown. Hunter served an 87-month prison sentence in that case.

Don Belosic, a member of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office who is assigned to the Youngstown federal Drug Enforcement Administration, testified that Hunter is on several wiretaps investigators used in the case talking about drugs.

The video was made after a search warrant was served in June 2016 at Hunter’s home where task-force members found two .40-caliber handguns and more than $2,800 in cash.

In the video, which Hunter posted to Facebook a day after the warrant was served at his home and was taken down shortly after, Hunter swears repeatedly and says he is going over to the woman’s house and he will not let her walk all over him. Belosic said under cross-examination from Hunter’s lawyer, David Betras, that he and another task-force member went to the woman’s house to make sure nothing happened.

Betras argued that his client deserved bail or at least house arrest. He had Hunter’s mother and pastor testify as character witnesses.

They were not in court when the video was played, because witnesses are separated during testimony, so they did not hear the recording.

Betras stressed that Hunter never hurt the woman he was ranting against and that all the evidence the government had against him is from wiretaps. But Limbert said the video shows that Hunter has a temper.

“I wouldn’t want to test him to see if he would turn violent or not,” Limbert said.

Limbert said the wiretaps make it clear that Hunter was speaking to other people about drugs, and the fact he served a sentence of 87 months in prison and was around people selling drugs did not work in his favor, either.

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