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Saturday, September 9, 2000

Former banker
Sia deemed flight risk,
temporarily denied bail

By Tim Ruel

A federal judge has blocked the release of businessman Sukamto Sia, who is heading back to a holding cell without bail, at least until the Miller Hale halfway house has space available.

"This is not an easy decision to make, obviously," Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra said.

His ruling overturned Magistrate Barry Kurren's ruling Wednesday to release Sia. Federal prosecutors have maintained Sia is a flight risk.

Sia, former majority owner of the Bank of Honolulu, has been indicted on charges of hiding almost $8 million before declaring bankruptcy in late 1998. Sia is also charged with spending several hundred thousand dollars in state tax refunds that should have been paid into his bankruptcy estate.

His trial is scheduled for Oct. 31.

It was not immediately clear how soon Miller Hale would be ready for Sia, who will remain at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

When space is available, Sia must post $1.5 million bail to move from jail, Ezra ruled, $700,000 more than what Kurren had ordered.

Sia would not be able to leave the halfway house, but would have access to attorneys and medical care.

Immediately after the ruling, Sia's defense attorney John Edmunds said he didn't know whether Sia could post the extra bond required on top of the $150,000 cash and two properties already posted by friends.

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