An Idaho man said by government lawyers to be associated with the anti-government militia movement was found guilty Friday of plotting to kill a federal judge, a prosecutor and an IRS agent in retaliation for an earlier criminal case brought against him.
A jury in Boise returned a guilty verdict in the trial of David Roland Hinkson, who was accused of offering $10,000 for the murder of the three federal officials, including U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge. Prosecutors said he contacted two people between December 2002 and March 2003 to try to arrange for the killings.
Hinkson, from east-central Idaho, runs a company called Water Oz, selling dietary supplements and mineral water. The business has earned him millions of dollars. But in the summer of 2000, the IRS began investigating him for failing to file tax returns or pay taxes for his employees. That case ended when he pleaded guilty in May 2004 to tax violations and overstating the benefits of his products.
On Friday, the jury found that Hinkson tried to solicit the murders of the judge who handled that earlier case, the assistant U.S. attorney who worked the tax charges and the IRS agent who investigated him.
"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," said Christopher Wray of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.
"We are grateful to the jury for recognizing this and providing justice for these victims, who were simply doing their jobs," Wray said.
During pretrial proceedings, an FBI agent testified that Hinkson's anger toward Judge Lodge was long-standing, stretching back to the judge's dismissal of charges against an FBI sharpshooter who killed Vicki Weaver during a standoff with white separatists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992. Prosecutors said Hinkson was affiliated with Idaho militia groups who shared his hatred of Lodge.
Hinkson's lawyer said Friday he'll appeal. Witnesses who testified against him, the lawyer said, were hoping he'd get convicted so they could take over his business.
Pete Williams is NBC's Justice Correspondent