Stadium shocked over charges
Aloha Stadium is temporarily replacing Herbert Naone during the extortion case
Aloha Stadium officials said they were surprised when they heard about their top security chief being indicted on federal extortion charges last week.
At a news conference held yesterday, interim Stadium Manager Kenny Lum said he was "still in shock" about the case against Herbert Naone, 57, who has been in charge of security for all major events at the stadium such as concerts, University of Hawaii football games and the Pro Bowl for the last 18 years.
Federal prosecutors indicted Naone and Honolulu Liquor Commission night supervisor James Rodenhurst with extorting thousands of dollars from Corey Kaowili Jr., who owns Club Sin City (also known as Club Pearl Ridge) in Pearl City and Volcanoes Night Club on Nimitz Highway.
"We are as surprised as the rest of you to learn that Mr. Naone was the subject of a federal investigation that has resulted in an indictment," Stadium Authority Board Chairman Kevin Chong Kee said. "Presently, Mr. Naone has requested and has been granted some personal time off to address these matters."
Stadium officials said they were temporarily replacing Naone with one of his assistants. Chong Kee said the board has no reason to believe that he abused privileges.
"He had contacts with the Honolulu Police Department and state sheriffs. ... He was very professional," he said. "You have to admit he did his job.
"What he did on his personal time, that's something else."
Both Naone and Rodenhurst pleaded not guilty to the charges last week. According to the indictment, Kaowili contacted Rodenhurst sometime prior to May 2004 and asked if there as some way to skirt liquor laws.
Federal prosecutors said Naone and Rodenhurst devised a scheme that allowed Kaowili's nightclubs to break liquor laws in exchange for $500 a week each. The defendants also allegedly warned the clubs of scheduled inspections and threatened to shut them down if they did not pay up. The alleged extortion began as early as May 2004 and continued until January 2005.
The investigation of both men began when FBI agents wiretapped Kaowili as part of his alleged involvement in a drug-trafficking ring for which he was also indicted last week and pleaded not guilty.
The wiretapping investigation was part of a massive FBI bust involving an alleged drug-trafficking and cockfighting ring that led to the arrests of an FBI worker, five Honolulu police officers and 29 others.
Liquor Commission officials started procedures yesterday to put Rodenhurst on administrative leave without pay pending a 30-day investigation of the indictment. The charges against him come just four years after eight former liquor inspectors were charged and convicted for the same thing: accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking violations.
Naone and Rodenhurst were with the Honolulu Police Department at about the same time. Naone worked there from 1967 to 1975. When he left, he was a patrol officer assigned to Honolulu. Rodenhurst worked for the police from 1968 to 1978. When he left, he was a patrol officer assigned to Honolulu.