Thursday, March 4, 1999

Maui man gets $50 fine
for harassing monk seal

By Gary Kubota


WAILUKU -- A 59-year-old Maui man has been sentenced to 100 hours of community service and fined $50 for harassment of the endangered species at the Keanae peninsula in rural east Maui on Aug. 12, 1998.

Under state law, Harry Hueu, who pleaded no contest to the charge on Tuesday, could have been sentenced to up to a year in prison and fined $1,000.

David Jordan, the Keanae resident who videotaped the harassment, said Hueu should have been fined more money.

Jordan also criticized District Judge Yoshio Shigezawa for refusing to view the videotape of the harassment before the sentencing in the courthouse in Hana.

Deputy Prosecutor Kim Fallone said she wanted to have the Shigezawa view the videotape because Hueu showed no remorse for hitting the seal.

She said she felt Hueu deserved a higher fine and more community service.

Fallone said Shigezawa scolded and warned Hueu that he would serve a jail term and a higher fine if he harassed a monk seal again.

Hueu, a retiree and also a Keanae resident, said he felt Shigezawa's sentence was too harsh and the judge didn't listen enough to his side of the story.

"It got me real mad, like justice wasn't done," Hueu said. "The problem is not solved there."

Hueu said he didn't intend to hurt the seal but threw a coconut husk, not a whole coconut, at the seal to find out if it was alive.

Hueu said young children, including his nephews, were playing on the beach and he feared for their safety.

Hueu said the seal who had been in Keanae since June appeared to be near death and its skin had turned white.

He said he didn't know at the time that seals turn white after molting.

Fallone and Jordon dispute Hueu's story.

They say Hueu was about five feet from the seal when he tossed a coconut.

Fallone said the sentencing without jail time was fairly typical for a first-offense misdemeanor.

The seal was a 1-year-old female born off Kaupo and the first-known monk seal pup born on Maui, the National Marine Fisheries Service said.

There are about 1,300 monk seals in the world, all living in Hawaiian waters.

Shigezawa was unavailable for comment.

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