Blackmail investigation leads to drug trafficking charge against DeLand commissioner

Jeffrey Hunter accused of giving hydrocodone to girlfriend

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

DeLAND, Fla. - An investigation into allegations that a DeLand commissioner was being blackmailed by his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend led authorities to charge him with trafficking in hydrocodone, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Commissioner Jeffrey Hunter alleged in December that he had given his former girlfriend, Jessica Sutton, $15,000 for various medical treatments during the course of their romantic relationship, but then later found out she used the money for a vehicle and gave some to her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jose Santiago.

A report from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said Hunter found out how the money was being used, which is when Santiago began threatening Hunter and Sutton faked her own death.

"If u listen to me and pay me what I want u won’t go to prison,” Santiago texted Hunter on Aug. 11, according to authorities. “20 grand it all goes away."

During the investigation into those claims, deputies learned that drugs could be involved. FDLE became involved in the case in February and uncovered that Hunter had given Sutton hydrocodone pills on at least seven occasions , according to a news release.

Authorities said Hunter left voicemails for Sutton discussing the number of pain pills he had legally available.

Hunter, a DeLand native, served for 35 years as a water plant operator for the City of DeLand Utility Department. He is charged with sale or delivery of hydrocodone.

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