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Tonic broker's hit list worth 60 in the clink

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A bizarre episode in Idaho's legal system came to an apparent close on January 28, when Grangeville businessman David Roland Hinkson was convicted in Federal court of soliciting the murders of a federal judge, a federal prosecutor and an IRS agent.

Following a three-week trial, a jury found Hinkson guilty of offering $10,000 for the deaths of U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge, Assistant U.S. attorney Nancy Cook and Internal Revenue Service special agent Steven Hines. All three officials were involved in a longstanding case against Hinkson for his involvement in a Grangeville-based mineral water producer named Water Oz.

Water Oz, which still operates in Hinkson's absence (possibly exceeding 60 years), was the subject of a four-year investigation by federal agent for tax evasion and shady business practices. In 2004, the investigation culminated in Hinkson being convicted of 26 counts of tax violations, a count of distributing an adulterated medical device and a count of distributing a misbranded drug. The cause of the last charge was the presence of lithium in Water Oz's chemical-laden product, which Hinkson claimed could cure alcoholism, cancer and AIDS, among other afflictions.

Hinkson, as well as his virulent supporters at the right-wing Idaho newspaper The Idaho Observer, have long maintained that his constitutional rights were violated during his 2002 arrest and that the case had more to do with Hinkson's political beliefs than his criminality. Hinkson even went so far as to write a letter to The Toronto Star titled "David Hinkson's Day of Terror at the Hands of Satan's Foot Soldiers," in which he detailed his arrest and alleged abuse. He also filed a civil suit against Cook and Hines, which was ultimately dismissed by Lodge.

The Boise jury took two days to find Hinkson guilty on three counts of the attempting to set up the retaliatory hits. He was acquitted on three separate counts of attempting to solicit the murders, and on two counts of making threats against the immediate family members of Cook and Hines. The jury deadlocked on three additional counts of attempting to make a third solicitation for the murders. His sentencing is set for April 25, 2005, where he could face a maximum of 20 years for each charge.

"Trying to put a hit on a federal judge, a prosecutor and an agent is an egregious attack on our system of justice and the rule of law," announced Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christopher Wray following the conviction. "We are grateful to the jury for recognizing this and providing justice for these victims, who were simply doing their jobs in the pursuit of justice."

None of the victims were harmed during the fiasco.

Tell BW your true crime stories. Call Nicholas Collias at 344-2055 or e-mail Nicholas@boiseweekly.com.

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