Petro America case headed to trial

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Isreal Howkins faces a juror of his peers on April 17
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  • Isreal Hawkins faces a juror of his peers on April 17.
Tuesday was another tough day in court for Isreal Owen Hawkins leading up to his April 17 trial for running the alleged Petro America racket.

On that day, a federal judge denied without explanation Hawkins' attempt to get another lawyer on his case.

Hawkins, who is accused of trumping up a purported $284 billion oil and natural resource company, for which he was president and CEO, as a vehicle for an affinity scam in Kansas City and elsewhere, has a public defender for his federal court case.

He claims that his lawyer isn't experienced in white collar or securities law cases; hasn't prepared witnesses; and hasn't hired an accounting firm to review the finances of his Kansas City company, which would have been second to Exxon in the United States in revenues at the time. He also insists that the lawyer is overworked, can't handle the case and won't subpoena a geologist.

Hawkins doesn't explain what the geologist would testify to, but perhaps Hawkins wants a professional to look into Petro America's supposed mining interests that federal investigators tracked down and insist are nothing more than piles of dirt.

Federal prosecutors handed down indictments against four defendants in 2010 and eight more the following year, after looking into Petro America and claiming that the company had no assets to speak of but convinced enough investors to buy $24 shares to raise $7.2 million.

Some of the accused have flipped and are apparently ready to testify against the remaining defendants.
Hawkins has done a fair bit of his own legal research, filing his own motions to get the case dismissed or to get a new lawyer for various reasons.

None have held up in court.

Jury selection will begin this coming Wednesday in a trial of five defendants linked to the Petro America case.
Prosecutors on April 4 filed a lengthy trial brief.

It contained some of the details that The Pitch had found before it published a feature in 2010 that you can read here.

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