June 30, 2004 in Idaho

Convicted tax evader charged in murder-for-hire plot

Associated Press
 

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho – Convicted federal tax evader David Hinkson has been charged with plotting the murders of a federal judge, an assistant U.S. attorney and a federal tax agent.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court also accused Hinkson of threatening to kill the children of both the attorney and federal agent with each watching.

“This is a man who hasn’t threatened anyone, he hasn’t solicited the murder of anyone,” Hinkson’s attorney, Wesley Hoyt, said Tuesday.

Hoyt called the charges fabrications based on unfounded rumors started by disgruntled former employees. “He is not a threat to anyone, but he has developed a number of enemies.”

The government claimed that between December 2002 and March 2003, Hinkson contacted two people, identified only as JH and EJS, to murder U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Cook and Internal Revenue Service Agent Steven Hines.

Hines was the lead investigator in the tax evasion case against Hinkson, Cook was the prosecutor and Lodge was initially the judge. He was replaced by a visiting U.S. District Judge Richard Talman for the criminal trial, but Lodge dismissed the civil lawsuit Hinkson filed against the government claiming violation of his rights and malicious prosecution.

During the same period, the indictment alleges Hinkson told a woman identified only as AB that he wanted to kill the children of both Cook and Hines while each parent watched.

Hinkson will be arraigned on the 11 counts on Thursday.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the nine counts of trying to hire hit men to kill the three federal officials and 10 years on the two counts of threatening the children of Cook and Hines. The actual sentence is unclear because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week raising questions about the validity of the federal sentencing system.

The Grangeville businessman is currently jailed awaiting sentencing July 29 on 26 tax evasion counts and two counts under Food and Drug Administration laws of selling misbranded drugs and equipment.

All the charges, which carry maximum sentences of one to five years, stem from operation of WaterOz, Hinkson’s international mineral water company that claimed the water contained metals such as gold and silver which have medicinal properties.

After being indicted in July 2002, he was released pending trial. But in April 2003, he was taken back into custody after authorities said they found evidence Hinkson offered money to a business associate to kill Lodge, Cook and Hines.

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