This post was originally published on Forbes May 18, 2015
Kent Hovind's supporters may have been premature in their celebrations this weekend, but tonight they really do have something to celebrate. Judge Margaret Casey Rodgers has granted Kent Hovind's motion for a judgment of acquittal on the contempt of court charge that he was convicted of in March. Kent Hovind nearing the end of a long prison sentence for tax related crimes, including structuring, the systematic withdrawal of amounts slightly less than $10,000 to avoid currency reporting requirements, was facing new charges. They related to his efforts to interfere with the government's sale of property seized as a result of the first conviction.
In March a jury found Kent Hovind and his co-defendant Paul Hansen guilty of contempt of court, but did not reach a verdict on more serious fraud and conspiracy. Retrial on those charges was scheduled to begin today. In a surprising move the government requested that the charges be dismissed without prejudice (which would allow them to be filed again). Hovind's counsel argued today that the dismissal should be with prejudice. Judge Rodgers has order dismissal without prejudice. The Government had moved to dismiss based on the defendant's concerns about the technical sufficiency of the superseding indictment and to be sure that defendants are adequately apprised of the nature of the accusations against them. Nobody was contesting the Government's stated reasons so the dismissal is without prejudice.
The real stunner from Judge Rodgers, though, is the acquittal. Dee Holmes, who was in the courtroom today pointed out the key language in the ruling.
The question though is whether Hovind’s conduct –particularly, the filing of the lis pendens–was clearly prohibited by the Forfeiture Order. The Forfeiture Order does not specifically prohibit Hovind from filing lis pendens against the forfeited properties; indeed, the Order does not prohibit any conduct at all. Instead, it simply forfeited the real property in partial substitution for the money forfeiture judgment.The Government has not cited any authority for the proposition that Hovind can be guilty of contempt for interfering with or evading an Order that did not speak directly to his conduct. Thus, the guilty verdict on Count Three cannot stand,
I just heard from one of the white collar crime experts who has been helping me follow the case.
Wow! Good for her! Will be even more interesting now to see whether govt goes back to the grand jury for a superseding indictment that better articulates a mail/wire fraud theory. Normally, the Tax Division of the USDOJ does not authorize the use of the mail fraud statute to pursue tax cases. Perhaps the second case is now really over.
Although Kent's supporters will, of course, give all credit for this victory to Jesus, they are likely to give a good hat tip to the United States Justice Foundation. As far as I can tell credit for picking USJF goes to Dave Daubenmire and Ernie Land. You also have to give Kent Hovind credit for going with a conventional defense.
Here are some of the celebratory proceedings on Rudy Davis's LoneStar1776.