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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, October 22, 2005

Assault alleged at Maui airport

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

KAHULUI, Maui Authorities are investigating reports that a retired Maui police officer who heads Wackenhut security at Kahului Airport attacked the head of Pacific Wings Airlines and an airline employee during a meeting Thursday to discuss a long-running dispute between the two companies.

Greg Kahlstorf, president and partner of Pacific Wings, a small interisland carrier, said Robert "Butchie" Tam Ho assaulted him and employee Will Goshorn without provocation in front of witnesses at the airport manager's office.

Kahlstorf said he and Goshorn were denied medical care and held for several hours before being taken to police headquarters in Wailuku, where Kahlstorf was booked for harassment and resisting arrest and Goshorn for assault. After posting bail, they sought treatment at Maui Memorial Medical Center and later filed assault complaints against Tam Ho and other Wackenhut staff. Goshorn suffered a facial fracture. Kahlstorf said he has blurred vision in one eye and ringing in his ears.

Kahlstorf said he has filed assault complaints, contacted his attorneys in Maui and Washington, D.C., and will be pursuing civil and criminal action against Tam Ho, Wackenhut and others.

Tam Ho, a retired assistant police chief for the Maui Police Department, did not return a phone call seeking comment. Roy Sakata, airports operations manager for the state Department of Transportation, said the situation was being investigated. The department contracts with Wackenhut for airport security. Sakata would not comment further. The state Department of the Attorney General was notified, but officials there said the matter was being handled by the federal Transportation Security Administration. TSA officials did not return telephone calls for comments. Maui Police Department Capt. Milton Matsuoka said a police investigation is under way.

Buzzy Chang, state manager of Wackenhut in Honolulu, declined to comment. The company employs a number of retired and off-duty police officers.

Kahlstorf, 42, said Pacific Wings has been harassed by Wackenhut security personnel. He said guards have interfered with passenger processing and hindered employees from doing their jobs.

He said the guards had become more aggressive recently, and that he contacted Chang in Honolulu on Thursday to complain. Shortly after the conversation, Kahlstorf said, Wackenhut guards brought TSA officials to the airline ticket counter with a complaint that individuals without proper badges were being allowed on the ramp area. Kahlstorf said he showed the TSA officials paperwork proving there were no violations, and then requested a meeting for 3 p.m. that afternoon with Dale Tsubaki, acting Maui airports manager for DOT, and Wackenhut and TSA officials to sort things out.

Kahlstorf said he showed up at the 3 p.m. meeting with Goshorn, business partner Frank Ford and on-duty manager Kahea Reinhardt. Also present, he said, were Tam Ho, whom Kahlstorf says he had never met before, and the DOT's Tsubaki.

Kahlstorf said Tam Ho threatened him, walked out of the meeting and returned a few minutes later with several guards to make a citizen's arrest for harassment.

Kahlstorf and Reinhardt said Tam Ho ordered everyone out of the room while they restrained the airline president on the floor and handcuffed him.

When Goshorn, 27, made a comment, Tam Ho attacked him, according to Reinhardt and Kahlstorf.

Reinhardt, 25, said that as Tsubaki stood helpless nearby and his female staffers screamed for Tam Ho to stop, the Wackenhut official started beating Goshorn outside the conference room. "Will put his hands over his head and huddled in the corner and Tam Ho was just hitting him like he was a boxer," she said.

When Ford tried to call 911, Reinhardt said, Tam Ho chased him and the other people out of the office. Reinhardt said she looked back and saw him hitting Goshorn again.

Kahlstorf said Tam Ho stomped on his head and hit him with the back of his hand.

"He just snapped. Everything was fine, it was peaceful," Reinhardt said. "We didn't say anything to him."

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.