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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 5, 2002

Cayetano grants 20 final-day pardons

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

In his final day in office Gov. Ben Cayetano pardoned 20 people who have been convicted of various crimes, including Hawaiian activist Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele for convictions dating back to 1984.

Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele was pardoned on Gov. Ben Cayetano's last day in office.

Advertiser library photo • Sept. 12, 1997

Earlier this year Cayetano also issued a pardon for a 1967 battery conviction for Alfred Castro, a state employee who for years served as Cayetano's liaison in Hilo, according to a list of pardons released yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle's administration.

During his eight years in office Cayetano granted pardons at a faster clip than the past two governors did, handing out 78 pardons this year alone, according to the list.

In all Cayetano pardoned 189 people during his eight years in office, according to lists released by the state. That compares with 113 pardons granted by former Gov. John Waihee between 1986 and 1994, and 193 pardons granted by former Gov. George Ariyoshi between 1973 and 1986.

Kanahele and two others were convicted of firearms and other offenses after authorities raided the Makapu'u Point lighthouse area in 1987 to oust more than 30 people who had occupied the site for more than a month. The group claimed the land on behalf of the Ka'awa family based on ties to King Kamehameha and on deeds to the land.

Kanahele, a longtime leader in the Nation of Hawai'i movement, said he applied for a pardon about six months ago because he hoped that clearing his record would allow him to "work better in the system." His felony convictions limited some of his activities, including his involvement in the Native Hawaiian Bank.

A police officer testified that Kanahele pointed a loaded shotgun at about 10 police officers when they tried to evict the group from the lighthouse area in 1987. He was eventually convicted of resisting arrest, terroristic threatening and keeping a firearm in a prohibited place, and served almost a year in prison.

Kanahele said there were guns at the lighthouse because the group was alarmed at some threatening actions by people who went to the lighthouse site, and at reports the group heard that they might be in some danger. "Basically a few rifles and stuff was brought on the property to protect ourselves," he said.

Cayetano said yesterday Kanahele "is not the same guy he was way back then."

"Bumpy Kanahele, in my opinion, has turned his life around; he has become a community leader in the Hawaiian community," Cayetano said. "We've dealt with him, and I just thought he was deserving of a pardon."

Cayetano pardoned Kanahele for the Makapu'u charges along with a 1984 assault conviction and some 1995 traffic violations.

Cayetano pardoned Castro for the battery charge on April 23. Castro could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Cayetano said Castro deserved the pardon.

"It goes way back, in fact I think it was in the '60s. It's an old, old, old conviction, it's the only one on his record, and I pardoned him for it," Cayetano said. "It happened a long, long time ago, and since then he's done a really good job for us as a liaison in Hilo."

This is Castro's second pardon. In 1975, former Gov. George Ariyoshi pardoned Castro for a 1962 conviction for assault with intent to ravish for an offense that occurred when Castro was a juvenile.

Earlier this week state officials confirmed that Cayetano on Monday commuted the sentence of Raquel Bermisa, a Waipahu care-home operator who was convicted of manslaughter when one of her residents died of neglect.

Cayetano reduced Bermisa's 20-year prison sentence to four years for the August 1999 death of Chiyeko Tanouye, a 79-year-old resident of her care home. Tanouye died of septicemia, an infection brought on by advanced bed sores.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.