Kent Hovind’s New Trial Is Delayed

You remember the suspense generated by conflicting reports yesterday, about which we wrote Charges Against Kent Hovind Dropped? It was a real cliff-hanger.

Hovind and his co-defendant had previously been found guilty on a few of the counts against them, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on some other counts. A new trial on those unresolved matters had been scheduled for today — along with sentencing on the previous guilty verdicts. But as of yesterday, it was unclear if the feds would proceed with prosecuting Kent Hovind (a/k/a “Dr. Dino”) on the charges which had resulted in a hung jury.

We have some news today in the Pensacola News Journal of Pensacola, Florida. That town was the home of Hovind’s creationist “ministry” and his Dinosaur Adventure Land, which are among the properties confiscated by the feds to pay Hovind’s back taxes. Pensacola is also the site of the federal courthouse where Hovind’s trials have been conducted.

Their latest headline is Hovind’s unresolved charges could be dropped. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The fraud charges against an embattled local evangelist are likely to be dismissed at the request of government attorneys, according to court records. On Saturday, the federal government requested that several counts of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud filed against Kent Hovind and his trustee, Paul John Hansen, be dismissed without prejudice.

In their last article, they didn’t define that term. A dismissal without prejudice means that the case may be retried, so if the judge allows the dismissal, Hovind may still be facing problems. Then we’re told:

Chief Judge Casey Rodgers is reviewing the motion for dismissal, however today she took the preliminary step of canceling the duo’s jury trial, which was scheduled to begin this morning.

That means that a dozen or so of Hovind’s supporters came to town for nothing. So much drool, so little to show for it. Let’s read on:

Hovind and Hansen were originally charged on a six-count indictment. It alleged that the men intended to defraud the U.S. government when they filed liens, claims and other court actions concerning properties that Hovind was forced to forfeit to settle outstanding tax debts.

Last week, Hovind and Hansen’s attorneys filed motions to dismiss the indictment against the duo, arguing that the government had not adequately explained how Hovind and Hansen allegedly violated the law. The motions argued – among other things – that the government had not alleged the men falsified any documents, thus the nature of the offenses were insufficient to be considered mail fraud.

Why isn’t it clear? Hovind filed documents that claimed he had liens on property which already belonged to the feds. We continue:

The defense’s motions were filed late – giving the government just one week prior to the trial to issue a response instead of the customary two weeks – but the prosecution was denied a motion to delay the trial in order to formulate a response.

Oh, the feds needed more time to deal with this exceedingly complicated issue. Here’s more:

Over the weekend, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Eggers asked that the indictment be dismissed “in the interest of justice, and in order to ensure that the defendants are adequately apprised … of the nature of the accusation.” [Ellipsis in the original.]

Yes, Hovind was confused, even though he had previously contested the feds’ seizure of those properties, and there had been a previous court order preventing him from making such filings. He was already been convicted of contempt in the earlier trial, but now he’s facing fraud charges too, and the poor guy can’t figure out what did he wrong. Ah well, moving along:

Rodgers is expected to issue an order in the near future that approves or denies the dismissal of the case.

But what about the scheduled sentencing on the earlier convictions? That’s in our last excerpt:

Both men are scheduled for sentencing on those charges June 12.

Okay, so everything is still up in the air. Will the feds be allowed to temporarily drop their charges, or will they be ordered to proceed to trial? And what will be Hovind’s penalty for his previous conviction? He claims he’s just a simple man of god, and this is all because he’s a creationist, while the feds insist it’s all about taxes. There’s so much confusion, tension, and drama. It’s almost more than we can bear. Stay tuned to this blog!

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3 responses to “Kent Hovind’s New Trial Is Delayed

  1. Stephen Kennedy

    I think that whatever the maximum sentence is for contempt, Hovind and Hansen should both get it. I sure feel a lot of contempt for these creationist tax protesters.

  2. Well, the newest documents are out–and the judge acquitted Kent on the contempt charge he was convicted of in March. It was for a technical reason. The jury was asked what order Kent disobeyed and they selected a 2007 order seizing the Hovind properties (a couple of bank accounts and Dino Adventure Land). The problem is the 2007 order didn’t give notice to Kent of things he was not supposed to do, like file the lis pendens. Had the jury selected a 2012 order, this might have had a different outcome. (Although, it’s worth noting that were I Kent’s defense counsel, I would have argued Kent wasn’t named on the 2012 order and thus wasn’t on notice.)

    So, essentially, this is where we’re at: Kent is acquitted of the one charge he was convicted of, the judge allowed the prosecution to drop the other three mail fraud / conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges against both Hovind and Hansen without prejudice (which means they could be brought up on charges again) and Hansen is still facing sentencing in June on the two criminal contempt of court counts he was convicted of. I think Hansen’s going to have a harder time getting out of those because he ignored a grand jury summons and he was on notice for the 2012 order to stop messing around with liens and whatnot. But I don’t think it’s impossible. The revelatory moment for me in law school was that there is no such thing as an open and shut case, and this case is definitely not open and shut.

  3. mirele says: “the judge acquitted Kent on the contempt charge he was convicted of in March. … Had the jury selected a 2012 order, this might have had a different outcome. … So, essentially, this is where we’re at: Kent is acquitted of the one charge he was convicted of”

    Very interesting. Thanks for the info. It looks like the feds have no choice now but to proceed with the remaining charges.