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A DeLand city commissioner was arrested today by state agents on drug-related charges.

Jeff Hunter, who was elected to the DeLand City Commission in 2016, is charged with the sale or delivery of hydrocodone, an opioid drug more popularly known as Vicodin.

Hunter said the charges were fabricated by a girl he dated briefly in 2017.

The investigation was launched after the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into allegations Hunter was trafficking narcotics.

Hunter initially told Sheriff’s Office detectives in October 2017 he had been defrauded by a 24-year-old DeLand woman with whom he had been involved in a relationship.

Her boyfriend, Jose Santiago, was arrested in December 2017 on extortion charges, after he allegedly demanded money from Hunter under threat of giving police evidence of a crime.

The FDLE’s investigation of Hunter began in February, according to agency spokeswoman Angela Starke.

“During the course of the investigation, agents determined Hunter had given his former girlfriend hydrocodone pills on at least seven separate occasions,” Starke said in a news release. “Hunter had a prescription for the drugs.”

The FDLE said agents also discovered Hunter had left several voicemails on his former girlfriend’s phone, talking about the amount of pain pills he had available.

Hunter spoke with The Beacon late Wednesday afternoon, and vehemently denied the charges. He said the charges were concocted by his former girlfriend and her current boyfriend, Santiago.

“First they tried rape, then they tried to get me for harassment … now they’re saying I’m a drug dealer,” Hunter said.

Hunter acknowledged having a prescription for an opioid painkiller, but said he received it at the end of June 2017, and only took it for back pain.

“I don’t even smoke,” he said. “I don’t drink.”

The commissioner said he was at a bail bondsman’s office, and preparing to head to the Volusia County Branch Jail to turn himself in. Hunter expressed confidence the charges would be quickly dropped — as quickly as the next day, he said.

Hunter said he would meet Thursday with the State Attorney’s Office and a judge, “and they’re going to drop the charges,” he said. “It’s not going to go to court.”

Hunter was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on a $25,000 bond.

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Anthony DeFeo joined The Beacon staff in 2015. The 24-year-old Long Island-native-turned-DeLand-resident has previously been published in The Florida Times-Union and The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Anthony enjoys writing, dining out, and exploring nature. While he enjoys playing with Conrad Beacon Cat at work, at home he is cat daddy to his own orange tabby, Cecil. Anthony is a graduate of the University of North Florida.


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