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Judge sets Kanahele 'free with a short leash'

He's sent to halfway house to await a new trial and told notthe visit the Nation of Hawaii's headquarters

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Tuesday, November 14, 1995

By Linda Hosek

Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele today exchanges his green prison garband cell for street clothes and a room at a federal halfway house, followinga surprise order to release him pending his new trial.

"He's free with a short leash," said Hayden Aluli, his attorney,who had suggested $250,000 bail and electronic monitoring as conditionsfor Kanahele's release.

Aluli said the first order of business was finding Kanahele, who lost 35pounds in prison, a plate of Hawaiian food.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra, citing the need to balance Kanahele's rightswith law enforcement concerns, yesterday released him to Miller Hale inHonolulu without bail.

But he prohibited Kanahele, the 41-year-old leader of the self-proclaimedNation of Hawaii, from going to Waimanalo to visit the nation's headquartersor his home.

"I don't believe given his mistrial and his time in custody that continueddetention would serve a useful purpose," Ezra said.

"But allowing him to return to his compound would be too dangerousfor Mr. Kanahele and law enforcement officers. It's not that Mr. Kanahelewould engage in violent acts, but he has a lot of followers."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne had opposed any release, arguing thathe remained a danger to the community and probably would not appear forany court appearances.

He cited Kanahele's three felony convictions, including one in 1988 forthreatening a police officer with a gun, and said Kanahele verbally threatenedpolice as recently as June.

Osborne also said two local federal judges had ruled that Kanahele was adanger and that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the rulings.

"There is no change here," said Osborne, who relied on previousrulings and transcripts to oppose bail.

The government has charged Kanahele with allegedly obstructing law enforcementagents last year and for harboring federal fugitive Nathan Brown, who isevading a 78-month sentence for tax fraud. The first trial ended in a hungjury, and the government will retry him.

But Aluli called numerous witnesses, including psychiatrists, religiousleaders and sovereignty leaders. Some opposed Kanahele's approach but describedhim as a nonviolent man who deserved bail.

A. Frenchy DeSota, an Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee, arrived in a wheelchairand walked with a cane across the courtroom to testify.

"I swear to you, Judge, with everything I hold sacred and decent --including the lives of my grandchildren -- he will not run," DeSotosaid. "That's why I'm here in my wheelchair."

DeSota also said that she "wanted to slap his head" when Kanaheleoccupied the Makapuu Lighthouse area in 1987 and pulled a gun on a policeofficer. But she said he had improved himself since then and become peaceful.

Kinau Boyd Kamali'i, also an OHA trustee, said she didn't agree with allof Kanahele's beliefs, but described him as compassionate.

"Some might take that as violent," she said. "But Mr. Kanahelewill never be a danger to this community."

She offered $2,000 to enable Kanahele to transfer to the half-way housetoday. Ezra had said the government did not have enough money to pay foranother slot, but said Kanahele could move immediately if he could pay forit.

Aluli, who praised Ezra for his fairness after his ruling, initially triedto postpone Kanahele's detention hearing when he learned Ezra would presideover it.

He said Ezra may have perceived Kanahele as a threat because the Nationof Hawaii had served him with a "public notice," alleging crimesagainst the nation.

"I don't intimidate that easily," he said to Aluli. "I don'tfeel threatened. I feel I can give a fair and impartial hearing."

Kanahele, who asked Ezra if he could "speak straight" with him,said he was scared of him at first.

"You're known as a hanging judge," Kanahele said, adding thathe thought the federal government was setting him up when he got Ezra forthe detention hearing.

Kanahele also told Ezra that he believed he had been put in prison "tounderstand that I've been too aggressive. It took a break to understandthat I got to work within the system. This is from the heart."

He said he would return for his second trial, scheduled for Jan. 3.

Aluli said he would file a motion to dismiss charges against Kanahele, claimingdouble jeopardy.

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