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More on geothermal developer Innovations Development Group

August 28th, 2013 · 3 Comments · Business, environment, Politics

In response to my post yesterday, a reader referred me to a comment by Mililani Trask at BigIslandChronicle.com posted a little over a year ago. Trask wrote in response to what she called “the inaccurate cut & paste snippets” of an earlier commenter concerning Roberta Cabral, founder of Innovations Development Group, which is competing for rights to develop a 50 megawatt geothermal on Hawaii Island. At issue was Cabral’s conviction on federal wire fraud and tax charges back a decade ago. You have to scroll down through many comments to find the one posted by Trask.

She wrote, in part:

The Roddy Rodriguez/Robbie Cabral case is one which is well known in Hawaii business & Labor circles. It is also one of over 1500 legal cases & federal investigations that were the subject of a Congressional Investigation for IRS abuse of power during the Bush years. A best selling book, authored by David Burnham, was also published on the federal scandal that detailed many of the most egregious cases. The book can be ordered on line. It is titled A law unto itself: The IRS abuse of power.

When George H.W. Bush came to power, his administration targeted many individuals (and Labor group)s for federal investigations and prosecution for numerous charges ranging from tax fraud to racketeering. Using the IRS, the Bush administration identified persons involved working with the Unions & brought false allegations against them. The purpose of this campaign of persecution was to force these innocent people to give false testimony against union leaders. In Hawaii the Teamsters & Unity House were targeted in an effort aimed at union leader Tony Rutledge. Roddy Rodriquez & Robbie Cabral were indicted and put through 10 years of hell by the IRS, but both refused to testify for the IRS.

The Bush IRS indicted Robbie Cabral 4 times over a period of 10 years. They never had the evidence to bring their false charges to trial. During this time they seized Cabral’s business accounts & records & prevented her from doing business. They destroyed her livelihood & tried to destroy her reputation. Their efforts failed. After Cabral’s associate Roddy Rodriguez suicide, Cabral entered a plea for Tax Evasion despite the fact that there was no evidence ever produced against her. This was accomplished in exchange for dropping all of the frivolous charges in 4 indictments. Upon her discharge the IRS sought to collect several hundred thousand dollars they alleged she had made as a result of the tax plea. She opposed their effort & used the IRS code to force the IRS to put forward their proof against her.

I can’t comment on the outcome of IRS collection efforts, as I haven’t seen any of those documents.

However, here are some relevant documents that may shed additional light on the issue.

First, here’s the docket from the criminal case, showing the documents filed, in order, as the case progressed. The case predated the full availability of federal court records online.

Second, the court’s judgement in the case, showing the offenses she was found guilty of.

Third, the indictment. I have not been able to retrieve the fourth and final version of the indictment. I was able to download the Third Superseding Indictment. This is most likely substantially the same as the final indictment.

One of the interesting things is what it has to say about the amounts owed the IRS. See the section beginning on page 7. It explains that the IRS recorded a tax lien against Cabral in 1994, apparently based on what the IRS believed at the time had been a $150,000 kickback received from the Unity House film project.

But the scheme was largely unsuccessful, the indictment alleges, and Cabral received only $25,000 out of the $150,000 she had expected to receive.

This is likely to be the basis of the dispute over the amount owed in back taxes that is referred to in Trask’s comments, or at least suggests the nature of the dispute.

And it doesn’t establish Cabral as simply the victim of government overreach, as Trask argues.

One other question jumped out at me when I looked through the “management team” of Innovations Development Group. Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Patricia Medina Talbert is listed as IDG’s “corporate counsel.”

This usually means the company’s in-house attorney.

I don’t know Talbert, but I checked the list of attorneys licensed to practice law in Hawaii, and her name does not appear on the list. I suppose it’s possible she is licensed under a different name. I don’t know.

A Google search indicates Talbert was not reappointed after serving one term as a NJ judge. She later challenged the decision not to reappoint her, arguing she had been the victim of discrimination. She lost at every level, eventually trying unsuccessfully to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her appeal.

Here’s a link to the decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued in 2011, which explains the history of the matter.

None of this, of course, relates directly to whether or not IDG’s geothermal plan would be a plus or minus for the Big Island. Here I would agree with the comment left yesterday by Kolea, who wrote:

I am not convinced geothermal development on Hawaii island is a bad idea. If it can be developed in an environmentally sound fashion and IF the benefits of its development are shared broadly among the people of the Big Island.

- See more at: http://www.ilind.net/2013/08/27/hawaiian-electrics-geothermal-plan-still-drawing-opposition/#comments

Well said, Kolea. Thanks for trying to keep this discussion on track.

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