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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2001

Woman charged with shrimp-stand extortion

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 46-year-old woman has been charged in connection with what police say was an extortion scheme that sought ownership of an award-winning shrimp stand in Kahuku and involved armed strongmen, death threats and the beating of the owner.

Police say the owner of Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp in Kahuku was the victim of death threats.

Kyle Sackowski • The Honolulu Advertiser

Police accused Connie M. Aragona and three men of threatening and beating owner Troy Nistche and forcing him to sign over Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp in Kahuku and his interest in Giovanni's Aloha Foods in Pearl City to her, according to a police affidavit filed in court. Aragona was charged Wednesday with first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and kidnapping, and her bail was set at $120,000, police said.

Giovanni's Aloha Foods gained national acclaim in 1999, winning the Fiery Foods Magazine's 1999 first-place Scovie Award for its Scampi Marinade and a second-place Scovie for its Hot & Spicy Sauce. The food has also been heralded as good eating by local food critics. According to the affidavit, Aragona met with Nistche at Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp on Waihona Street on Sunday and demanded that he sell back Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp to her for $120,000, the original sales price in 1997.

Aragona produced a type-written contract with terms relinquishing Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp to her and demanded Nistche sign it, but Nistche refused to sign, saying the business was now worth an estimated $300,000 to $400,000, the affidavit said.

Aragona came with three armed men and one of them punched Nistche in the back of the head, held him by his throat, placed a gun barrel against his left eye and said, "Is this what you want to happen?" the document said.

The assailant then struck Nistche in the forehead with the gun, opening a gash in his head, the affidavit said.

During the attack, two assailants demanded Nistche sign the contract and made comments about him "disappearing" and "needing a bullet," the document said. Aragona witnessed the attack and made no effort to stop it, the document said, and when Nistche asked, "What's going on?" she replied, "I want that business."

The assailants pointed guns at Nistche and warned him not to call police, the document said. Aragona offered $500,000 for Nistche to relinquish all interest in both businesses to her, which he did, the document said.

After Nistche signed the contract, Aragona told him: "Let me tell you something. When this is over and done with, I don't ever want to see you again; I don't ever want you to cross my path. If you cross me, I'm not going to have to do anything. It's these guys," the document said.

The assailants told Nistche if he wanted his family to be okay then, "what happened in this room stays in this room" and "I hope you know how serious this is and I hope you don't do anything stupid," the document said.

Later that evening, Aragona and one of the assailants went to Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp truck in Kahuku and demanded the cash box from the employees, claiming to have purchased the business from Nistche, the document said. When an employee contacted Nistche, the worker was told to relinquish the cash box to avoid any trouble, the affidavit said.

On Tuesday, Aragona turned herself into the main police station, police said. The three armed assailants remain at large, police said.