Saturday, May 26, 2001

Sia pleads not guilty
to 13 new charges

By Tim Ruel

Troubled businessman Sukamto Sia and girlfriend Kelly Randall pleaded not guilty yesterday to the newest charges brought by the federal government.

The 13 counts include bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and making false statements.

The two were indicted by a federal grand jury last week, along with Sia's younger brothers Sumitro Sukamto and Suwardi Sukamto, and two of Sia's business partners, Khee Pow Yong and Johannes Sjah. The latter four defendants did not appear in court yesterday because they are in Asia and have not yet been arrested.

During the hearing before Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang, Randall agreed to post $100,000 bail. Sia, who has already been indicted two other times in the past nine months and faces a total of 22 charges, has already posted $1.5 million bail.

In a separate hearing yesterday before U.S. District Judge David Ezra, Sia failed to have his bail reduced. The former Honolulu investor was hoping to ease the financial burden on friends who helped him post the bond, now that his trial has been pushed back to Oct. 16.

Sia was also hoping to get rid of the electronic monitoring system that has been watching him. His attorney, William McCorriston, said that Sia is already being watched 24 hours a day by guards and doesn't require further scrutiny. Sia has abided by the terms of his release. What's more, charges were dismissed earlier this week against Sia in Nevada. Sia was arrested in Las Vegas in 1998 for writing $8 million in bad checks to two casinos.

Ezra, who wrote the original terms of Sia's bail, was not moved. The conditions of the criminal case against the Indonesian businessman have not changed, Ezra said. Sia, a foreign national, has significant financial and personal ties outside the United States, representing a flight risk, Ezra said.

Sia is enjoying the maximum of personal freedom possible while balancing the government's need to keep track of a defendant, Ezra said.

Ezra noted that Sia and Randall have been living for the past couple months at a $4.5 million estate in the plush Bel Air district of Los Angeles.

"Most individuals would consider those accommodation to be rather luxurious, to put it mildly," Ezra said.

Sia, 42, apparently has a medical condition in his parathyroid gland and has been seeing a doctor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Once the condition is treated, Sia will have to return to confinement at an apartment at the Waikiki Landmark luxury condominium, as specified in the terms of release, Ezra said.

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