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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Plot to kill judge, others nets 43 years

Associated Press

BOISE – A Grangeville man convicted in January of plotting to kill a federal judge, prosecutor and tax agent has been sentenced to 43 years in federal prison after a raucous court hearing, according to U.S. Attorney Tom Moss.

Friday’s portion of the two-day sentencing hearing was interrupted when David Hinkson cursed at the judge, pushed a TV monitor to the floor and attempted to jump over the defense table, according to a statement sent to news organizations Saturday afternoon.

Hinkson was charging at visiting Judge Richard C. Tallman of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who was hearing the case, when he was restrained by deputy U.S. Marshals and removed from the courtroom. After the spectators were cleared from the courtroom, Hinkson was returned in shackles for the rest of the hearing.

Moss said he believed the 43-year sentence was appropriate.

“The idea that a criminal can get revenge or even get out of paying for his crimes through violence and intimidation constitutes a very real threat to public safety,” Moss said. “As this sentence demonstrates, we and the courts take these threats extremely seriously.”

Hinkson was accused of offering $10,000 each to kill U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy D. Cook of Coeur d’Alene, and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Steven M. Hines. His trial lasted three weeks in U.S. District Court in Boise last January. The jury deliberated for two days before returning the guilty verdicts.

The jury acquitted Hinkson on other counts of alleged solicitation for murder against the same three people and their families.

Hinkson was initially charged with tax evasion and other white collar crimes related to his Grangeville, Idaho-based business, WaterOz. He was arrested on those charges in November 2002 and then released pending trial, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson.

“This is a white-collar case,” Olson said. “These are not the type of cases where you have high-risk defendants.”

However, Hinkson was arrested again in April 2003 after the FBI obtained evidence that he had tried to hire a hit man to kill Lodge, Cook and Hines, Olson said.

Prosecutors claimed Hinkson offered a business associate, James Harding, and another man as much as $10,000 for the murder of each of the federal officials. None of the officials was harmed.

Federal investigators previously told The Spokesman-Review that Hinkson approached members of the militia group known as the Idaho Country Posse about the assassination plans.

All the targeted officials were involved in the case against Hinkson over his mineral water company, WaterOz. In that case, Hinkson was convicted of tax evasion and violating Food and Drug Administration rules against selling misbranded drugs and equipment by claiming his mineral water contained gold and silver and could be used to treat ailments ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to AIDS.

Cook, who works out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Coeur d’Alene, had presented the income tax case to a grand jury, resulting in the indictment.

Tallman indicated he would recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Hinkson be considered a high-risk inmate because of his continued hatred of federal officials and his financial ability to carry out his threats and to flee the country if he escaped, the statement said.

There is no federal parole system, although Hinkson could get a few years off for good behavior, and probably will get credit for time served, federal officials said.