BY JIM DOOLEY – Alleged Waikiki extortionist Tory Winward is “a good guy” who has been falsely accused by
business partners “who have been robbing him blind,” his lawyer said in court today.
Winward, 44, was arrested by FBI agents in late August on charges that he and two others used violence in a conspiracy to extort money from owners of The Shack Waikiki, a popular Kuhio Avenue bar/restaurant.
He has been held without bail since his arrest but Winward’s lawyer, Michael Green, said his client deserves a chance to post bond and return to his family and friends while awaiting trial.
“For the last 10 years he has exemplified the kind of person that I would welcome into my home,” Green told Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren.
Green filed numerous letters of support written by Winward’s friends and associates. Relatives and supporters filled much of the court for the afternoon bail hearing.
Green said Winward’s partners and co-investors in the Waikiki nightspot are “a whole bunch of crooks. He caught them stealing. He threatened them.”
Winward did punch one of his partners but “apologized immediately,” Green said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady told Kurren that the federal Pretrial Services Office recommended against bail and another federal magistrate already ruled against Winward’s release.
Winward was videotaped beating one of his partners inside The Shack, Brady said, offering to play the tape for Kurren.
When FBI agents showed Winward the tape, he told them, “If I really wanted to hurt him, I could have broke his jaw because I’m a trained fighter,” Brady said.
Kurren said he intends to look at the tape but is inclined to release Winward from custody if the proper conditions can be established.
Those conditions would include “third party custodians” and posting of an undetermined amount of bail “that would be immediately forfeitable” if Winward misbehaves, Kurren said.
He scheduled a further hearing Friday afternoon.
If Kurren does allow Winward’s release, the government can appeal the decision.
According to state court lawsuits filed against The Shack Waikiki, Winward was an original eight per cent minority owner of the business.
Majority owner Andrew Lindberg said in one of the suits that Winward was a longtime patron of another Shack outlet Lindberg controlled in Hawaii Kai. That connection led to Winward’s original investment in the Waikiki venture, Lindberg said.
In a sworn affidavit filed in the federal criminal case, FBI Special Agent Joe Yum said Lindberg surrendered his 51 per cent interest in the business last year because “he felt he was forced by Winward to leave the business partnership without receiving any compensation for his share.”
The shares were transferred to Winward Consulting, a business operated by Winward’s wife Sharon, Yum’s affidavit said.
Lindberg, who is identified by his initials in Yum’s affidavit, “feared for his physical safety and for the safety of his family,” Yum said.
The Shack Waikiki has been repeatedly investigated and cited by the Honolulu Liquor Commission for a variety of infractions, including acts of violence committed by bar bouncers against patrons.
It has been sued multiple times by patrons who claim they were assaulted and injured by bouncers without provocation.
Winward has a felony criminal record but has not been convicted of a crime for 20 years.
A misdemeanor assault charge filed against him in 2009 was later dismissed.
In court Thursday, Green said the federal charges would amount to no more than “assault in the third degree” if brought in state court.
Co-defendant Jesse Yoshino “beat the hell out of somebody and he gets bail,” Green said.
But the government is basing its charges on allegations from Winward’s crooked business associates, the lawyer said.
“It’s like the animals are running the zoo,” said Green.