The Felon Lawyer And “Rat” Of Kahala

This is National Expungement Week. Expungement seals certain arrest or court records from public view. Hawaii’s Attorney General handles sealing of arrest records. Only a court order can seal a Hawaii court record of your trial, conviction or acquittal.

There’s a lawyer in Honolulu who obviously hasn’t had either expunged. They are in public view and on a public website which lists criminals who work or have worked with local police and the feds in return for leniency.

This one laundered drug money and had an alcohol problem himself. He was a combat and commercial pilot and a trial lawyer. Licensed in California and Hawaii. Had Homeland Security and TSA clearance at our airports. Finally caught. Agreed to be a “rat” for the drug police to avoid prison and get suspended probation.  Got his law license back. Set up a practice from his house in Kahala.

I’m not going to use his name. There’s a measure of forgiveness in our law after a violator makes good. That’s fair. But in this case there’s some very dirty background and even the court that handed back his license to be a lawyer again had initial misgivings. But it’s all documented and still open for public viewing. Not expunged.

I’ll call this man The Lawyer. So far as we know, he’s remained clean. No need to alarm his neighbors, clients and associates by naming him. Also, he’d be a target if certain criminal elements knew he had “ratted them out” to the DEA. But I’ve wondered how he managed to get a TSA clearance badge at the airport in spite of his felony record. I guess it’s because he was never involved with any terrorists. Just drug smugglers and their secret bank accounts. The Lawyer set up the latter in Hong Kong with a fake company. He was very well paid.

He was The Lawyer for Paul and Michael Miller or Idaho and Hawaii, who were major marijuana smugglers here over two decades. They were arrested, convicted and jailed, but not before outing The Lawyer as the man who made their smuggling money look legal. The Lawyer went to Hong Kong and met with “arranger” Fong Hup and set up a fake company that supposedly invested in real estate.

The Lawyer and his wife have lived in Hawaii for 30+ years. He had an exemplary background. Enlisted in the Air Force, requested Vietnam duty in wartime and flew more than 1,000 combat hours there. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Came home, went to law school, worked as a public defender for Native Americans and participated in anti-war protests. Entered private practice here in Hawaii in 1978.

Because he “ratted” on the Hawaii drug smuggling operation and helped recover millions of dollars of illegal drug money, he was only given suspended probation. His help for the DEA won him just a brief suspension of his flight license. California and Hawaii took away his law-practice license. But in spite of his federal conviction, he eventually was able to get employed here as a licensed air tour pilot.

He admitted that he knew he was involved in an illegal drug and money laundering operation. He told the court “I allowed those considerations to cloud my judgment and support my fragile rationalizations which I used to allow myself to act as I did.
In fact, my entire relationship with the client was totally misguided
and, I know, stupid.”

A highly-regarded local attorney who worked with The Lawyer on cases before the conviction, Frank O’Brien, told the Bar Court that  he had seen The Lawyer on a regular basis during the period he has been on suspension, and the man has continued to show the same level of honesty and integrity that Mr. O’Brien had experienced during their prior association.  The court said “It is Mr. O’Brien’s belief that if petitioner is reinstated, petitioner will uphold high standards of practice in the future.”

The court’s summary said “it is appropriate to consider the nature of the misconduct, as well as the aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding the misconduct which led to petitioner’s discipline.”

The California State Bar opposed reinstating The Lawyer’s license and said “the petitioner made misstatements and omissions in his petition, and that he wasconcealing material facts and not being entirely truthful with the court. The State Bar also contends that petitioner attempted to minimize his misconduct and therefore does not appreciate the nature of his misconduct.”

The Bar Court found otherwise. “His actual suspension from the practice of law is hereby granted.”

So The Lawyer  also was reinstated here. But his work for the local police, DEA, FBI, and the IRS in outing drug smugglers and money-laundering operatives in Hong Kong has been posted at the membership website WhosARat.com.

That probably is not a comforting thing for The Lawyer.

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Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

2 replies on “The Felon Lawyer And “Rat” Of Kahala”

  1. WOW, my husband, a son, and daughter-in-law are attorneys. I’m appalled that this “ lawyer” was given a pass for violating the law that he vowed to uphold. Yet, crime marches on as does the lack of integrity in law enforcement.

  2. Based on the information you provided, it took approximately six seconds to find The Lawyer’s name and about another five to find his Kahala address using open sources, so don’t pat yourself on the back too hard for so generously not disclosing his name to protect him from his former confederates.
    It’s interesting stuff to idly contemplate on a slow morning but also makes one wonder who fed you this information and what their interest is, or why you find it relevant to rake over so many years later. Unless you were so interested in criminal justice and the obscure National Expungement Week that you diligently searched for some local example to highlight and discovered this one.
    Do tell.

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