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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Indicted stadium security chief gets paid time off

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

The head of security at state-run Aloha Stadium has been granted a request to be placed on paid vacation while state and stadium officials decide what his status should be in the wake of being indicted along with a liquor inspector last week.

Herb Naone, 57, head of stadium security, and James Rodenhurst, 57, night-shift supervisor for the Honolulu Liquor Commission, were indicted last week by a federal grand jury on allegations that they extorted about $500 a week from the owner of two O'ahu nightclubs.

Rodenhurst is expected to be put on unpaid administrative leave, possibly starting today, until the commission completes its investigation.

"This is a new administration," said Dewey Kim, the administrator for the Liquor Commission. "We're not going to tolerate any of this."

Naone, however, asked to be placed on vacation for an unspecified amount of time after his indictment, and the Aloha Stadium Authority granted the request, said authority Chairman Kevin Chong Kee.

At a news conference yesterday, Chong Kee said authority members were unaware of the federal probe and were "surprised to learn" that Naone had been indicted.

"It was a shock to everybody involved," he said, noting that Naone had accrued "quite a bit of unused vacation."

Chong Kee emphasized that the allegations against Naone "have nothing to do" with Naone's position as head of security at the stadium.

He said Naone is a state employee who works for the Aloha Stadium, a state-owned facility. The Stadium Authority, meanwhile, acts as a "board or commission" in setting policy for the stadium, Chong Kee said.

He said Stadium Authority members have not had a chance to meet yet with the state attorney general's office to discuss the matter. Chong Kee said Stadium Authority members "have never had any issues" with Naone in his role as stadium security manager.

Chong Kee was flanked at the news conference by Kenny Lum, stadium manager, and Scott Chan, interim stadium deputy manager.

When asked what Naone's specific duties were at the stadium, Chan said he "dealt with everything having to do with security from responding to complaints to coordinating security employees' responsibilities to making requests with the Police Department to provide special-duty officers."

The stadium officials said the indictment will not have any effect on stadium operations such as the swap meet or upcoming sports events. Lum and Chan said Naone did not have control of or handle any money derived from stadium events.

The three stadium officials said Naone began working for the stadium long before they did and that they knew nothing about his background. They said Naone has been employed by the stadium for 18 years.

Naone was fired from the Honolulu Police Department after he and two other Honolulu officers were accused of the shotgun robbery of $10,000 to $80,000 from a gambling operation on Kaua'i in 1975.

The case took five years to go to trial, and the three defendants eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree theft. They paid $5,000 fines, served no jail time and were granted their requests for a "deferred acceptance of guilt," which allowed them to avoid having a permanent criminal record.

Rodenhurst also is a former Honolulu police officer. Their indictments last week are an outgrowth of a massive FBI investigation that resulted in criminal charges against Honolulu police officers two weeks ago. Both have pleaded not guilty to the federal extortion charges that allege Naone and Rodenhurst took money from Corey "Bozo" Kaowili Jr., owner of Volcanoes Nightclub on Nimitz Highway and Sin City, also known as Club Pearlridge, from May 2004 to January 2005.

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo, said that in exchange for the alleged payments, Kaowili either sold liquor without a permit or, after he acquired one, served drinks past the mandatory 2 a.m. closing time. Kubo said investigators believe that in exchange for the payments, Kaowili wanted information about upcoming liquor inspector raids and called Naone, who would then contact Rodenhurst.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com.