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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 7:06 p.m., Monday, August 6, 2007

KITV erroneously reports Big Island rancher's death

Advertiser Staff

Big Island rancher Larry Mehau is not dead his daughter said, disputing a broadcast report last night.

"We're pleased that he's perfectly fine," Anela Mehau told The Advertiser. "We've had calls from California, all over. We were watching a movie and did not see the news report."

KITV initially reported that Mehau was dead and then ran several follow-up reports saying the station had been the victim of a hoax.

Mehau actually is looking forward to celebrating his 78th birthday in December, his daughter said.

Mehau, a former Honolulu police officer, went on to own a private security company called Hawaii Protective Association.

During a 1985 campaign speech, state Sen. Rick Reed called Mehau the "godfather of organized crime in Hawai'i," which led to a lawsuit by Mehau and a subsequent 1992 civil case.

The jury ruled in Reed's favor, but state judge Wilfred K. Watanabe vacated the verdict and ruled that Mehau was entitled to a new trial. Watanabe said that the jury's verdict went counter to the "great weight of credible evidence."

The Hawai'i Supreme Court affirmed Watanabe's ruling.

Mehau and Reed settled the lawsuit in 1996.

KITV management declined to comment for the record when reached this afternoon.