Indian man charged in attempted extortion of Awana
An Indian computer expert is in jail in Honolulu, charged with trying to blackmail Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff, Robert "Bob" Awana.
Radjatta Patkar was indicted April 27 on charges of extorting money via an e-mail threat to injure the property and reputation of Awana.
The federal grand jury indictment charged that Patkar attempted to extort $35,000 from Awana.
The indictment used only the initials "R.A.," but Awana says he was the extortion victim.
"I received a threatening e-mail and I immediately went to Ed Kubo, the U.S. attorney. I gave him copies of the e-mail I received," Awana said in an interview yesterday.
The alleged extortion attempt happened Sept. 5, 2005, according to the indictment.
Awana said Kubo told him to talk to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"They proceeded to lay out a plan to investigate and find out who this character was," Awana said.
The FBI gave Awana money to use to pay the demanded ransom, Awana said.
"The next thing I know, they caught the guy," Awana said.
Patkar, an Indian working in Japan, was extradited to Hawaii to answer the five-count indictment. Patkar opposed the extradition, according to his attorney, federal Public Defender Pamela Byrne.
Patkar said he was employed by Best Trading Co., generating $500,000 in business a year, according to documents filed with the federal court.
The entire case has been handled quietly and yesterday Byrne asked the federal court what she could say about the case.
Late yesterday, Kubo's office said it was limited in what it could say.
The news release from the U.S. Attorney's office yesterday said victims have a right to privacy, and "the practice is to abbreviate or eliminate the names of victims in virtually all charging documents such as indictments.
"Information relating specifically to the Patkar case while it is pending trial will be disclosed in the form of pleading and other documents filed with the court," the release said.
In a court document filed yesterday, Byrne said the charge against Patkar is that he "allegedly requested payment in exchange for not exposing or publishing the purported victim's unseemly e-mails to another person."