The ex-wife of a Florida cop who was fired last week for allegedly being a member of the Ku Klux Klan offered a surprising explanation for the ordeal when she was approached by state investigators earlier this year.
Ann Hunnewell reportedly told the investigators she and her ex-husband, Cpl. George Hunnewell, had joined the hate group in 2008 or 2009, while they were still married, as part of a covert operation to root out a crooked cop. Even though she was working at the time as a secretary for the police department, her undercover work was approved by the chief, she told the investigators.
Ann Hunnewell’s explanation was detailed in documents obtained Tuesday by TPM as part of a public records request with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The state agency was investigating the suspected KKK membership of multiple officials within the Fruitland Park, Florida police department.
The department’s current administration apparently didn’t buy the explanation. The investigation led to George Hunnewell’s firing as well as the resignation of Chief Deputy David Borst last week.
At the time of their departures, the Fruitland Park police department said it had received information that originated with a confidential FBI source but which had been passed along through state investigators.
The documents released Tuesday, which were heavily blacked out, made no mention of the FBI. They did indicate a confidential source was involved in connecting the cops to the KKK, but they also described the interview in which Ann Hunnewell said on the record that she and her ex-husband had become members in the organization.
“Ann Hunnewell said there was no documentation of their undercover operation and she did not have paperwork from the KKK/USNK,” the documents said, referring to the United Northern and Southern Knights chapter of the hate group. “She remembered completing a KKK application prior to joining but never obtained a copy. Ann Hunnewell also remembered receiving one KKK newsletter but did not keep it.”
According to the documents, Ann Hunnewell said she and her husband were compelled to join the KKK after the Fruitland Park police chief at the time, Mark Isom, told them he believed another member of the force was involved with the group.
Ann Hunnewell explained to investigators that the chief assigned the couple to follow up on the allegations against officer James Elkins. Because of that, Hunnewell said, she and her husband decided to befriend Elkins and his wife.
“The Hunnewells began to exercise with the Elkins’ and also had dinner together several times,” the documents stated. “After several months, James Elkins asked George Hunnewell if he would consider joining the KKK. Ann Hunnewell stated that her ex-husband did not share the KKK ideology but agreed to join in the spirit of the undercover investigation.”
Eventually, according to Ann Hunnewell, the couple took part in a membership ceremony and joined the group. She said they reported their membership to the police chief. However, before the undercover operation got any further, according to Hunnewell, Elkins’ wife went public with information that her husband was involved with the KKK. Following on the news, the chief gave Elkins the chance to resign, Hunnewell said, and he did so in 2009.
During the interview with state investigators, Hunnewell was shown various photos, including one of a man she was able to identify as Borst, the police department’s chief deputy. She said that she believed Borst was also a member of the KKK because of conversations he’d had with Elkins, but she was unable to say for sure.
Borst and George Hunnewell have not spoken publicly since they were fired. Local news outlets were unable to reach the former chief for comment since the news broke last week. Isom resigned from the department in a separate scandal in 2010 after investigators discovered he had faked his educational credentials.
Read the FDLE’s report below: