Thursday, July 14, 2005

Crime and Punishment/Fraud

A year later, Hinkley still on the loose
Des Moines/IA/USA/9-Jul-05

…. Hinkley, a former Quaker minister turned housing financier, left his Oskaloosa home on a business trip in late June 2000 with a cargo that included boxes of records from the pyramid schemes known as Iowa and Missouri Rural Investment companies. While relatives waited and worried, he made his way to Florida, then quietly slipped south to the Caribbean with some diamonds, a rifle and a sizable chunk of his investors' money.

Exactly how much money is still a matter of debate.

The second disappearance has renewed questions about whether Hinkley managed to hide any of the stolen money during his first time on the lam.

Hinkley lasted roughly three months before authorities discovered him in October aboard a $1.3 million yacht on the island of St. Maarten. Accountants hired by Dunn ultimately recovered $3.1 million and believe most of the rest was burnt up in Hinkley's extravagant lifestyle.

Hinkley still faces a court order demanding that he pay back $5.7 million to investors.

When he was returned to Iowa, he agreed to a plea bargain, went to prison and eventually was paroled to a Des Moines apartment and a telemarketing job.

Hinkley was 33 months from the end of his parole when he made his second escape.

This time, U.S. authorities readily admit, no one has a clue where he is.

"We have nothing to date," said U.S. Marshal Charlie Beach, southern Iowa chief of the agency responsible for tracking down federal fugitives. "We've notified Interpol and done everything we can do to locate him."

Echoed Deputy U.S. Marshal Mike Powell: "We've done pretty much all we know how to do right now. We just haven't had one lead on him. Not one."

Hinkley, after initially protesting his innocence, pleaded guilty in 2001 to money laundering and mail fraud charges. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison, then had that sentence reduced after he helped authorities build a case against Wayne Belner, a suburban stockbroker who recruited more than $2 million for Hinkley's bogus companies. He was released in March 2004.

Hinkley, 56, was last seen in Iowa at his telemarketing job on June 17, 2004. Federal authorities filed for an arrest warrant after he missed a July 2, 2004, meeting with a parole officer. …...


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