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Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Laie woman may be
released on bond

By Suzanne Tswei


U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi today ruled that Montez Salamasina Ottley, the Laie woman accused of operating an international Ponzi scheme that defrauded about 4,000 investors of more than $40 million, could be released on bond.

However, Ottley, 55, is not expected to be released for several days, at least,pending a review of her bond.

During a detention hearing this morning, Kobayashi lowered Ottley's bond from $300,000 to $200,000, which Ottley plans to secure through two homes owned by family members.

Before the bond can be secured, the homes, one in Kaneohe and one in Laie, will be appraised and subjected to title searches.

If and when she is released, Ottley must abide by a number of conditions, including wearing an electric monitor, following curfew and not making contact with any investors.

In the meantime, the U.S. Attorney's Office said it will appeal Kobayashi's decision.

At the hearing, Deputy U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick called FBI agent James Brown to show why Ottley should not be released from custody.

Brown testified that a victim of the scheme was told by Ottley that if she complained to the FBI about losing money, she would not be given her money back. Also, he said, Ottley offered to help others prepare statements for investigators, saying that "the truth will set us free ... but sometimes, the words we use can be incriminating."

More than two dozen family and friends packed the small courtroom to support Ottley, wearing homemade buttons that said, "Montez is innocent."

Ottley insisted she would represent herself against the charges, although Kobayashi urged her to use her back-up counsel, Lane Takahashi.

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