Federal Prosecutors Accuse Private Attorney Michael Green of Conflicts Of Interest

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BY JIM DOOLEY – In federal criminal court, attorney Michael Green is defending a man charged with using violence and extortion to gain ownership of a popular but rowdy bar-restaurant in Waikiki called The Shack.

In state civil court, Green represents four clients who are suing The Shack Waikiki for injuries they claim they suffered after being attacked and beaten by the bar’s owners, bouncers and security personnel.


That’s a conflict of interest for Green, federal prosecutors argue in asking the court to disqualify him from further involvement in the criminal case.

In one of the civil cases, Green represents a man who claims to have been beaten unconscious by Shack Waikiki personnel including Tory Winward, Green’s client in the federal criminal case, court records show.

The civil case plaintiff, Stanton Reis-Vierra, claims in his suit that he went to the bar to complain to managers because his girlfriend had earlier been sexually assaulted by a Shack security guard.

Federal prosecutors have obtained a videotape of Green’s client Reis-Vierra being beaten by Green’s client Winward and his associates, according to federal court papers.

“Evidence of this assault will be introduced at trial because it is relevant to the victims’ fearful state of mind,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar, who is prosecuting Winward and co-defendants, said in the motion to disqualify.

Green has not yet responded to the disqualification motion but said today that although his name is on the civil suits, they are being handled by another attorney in his office, Glenn Uesugi.

And he said all his clients have waived any conflict of interest concerns because they want him to continue representing them.

State court files show that Green, a flamboyant lawyer frequently involved in high-profile civil and criminal cases here, was suing the Shack and its owners with Uesugi in one state civil case before he agreed to take on Winward as a client in the criminal case in September of last year.

In that civil case, which is unresolved, Green’s client Michael Scalera clams he was “violently beaten by Shack Waikiki

Shack Waikiki

security personnel without provocation.”

After Green began representing Winward in federal court, he sued Shack Waikiki three more times. All of those suits are still pending.

Numerous other civil complaints have also been filed by other attorneys on behalf of clients claiming they were violently assaulted by Shack employees and/or managers.

The Reis-Vierra suit, filed by Green in November 2011, alleges that the plaintiff’s girlfriend went to The Shack Waikiki with friends the evening of November 15, 2009 and became ill after accepting a free drink from the bartender.

On her way to the restroom, she was “intercepted by a Shack Waikiki security guard” who used an elevator access key to take her to a high floor of the Waikiki Trade Center, the high-rise building that houses The Shack and other commercial enterprises on its first two floors.

When the guard attempted to sexually assault her, the woman screamed “at the top of her lungs” and the guard fled, according to the lawsuit.

Reis-Vierra alleged that he went to the Shack Waikiki two weeks later to speak with manager-owner Brendan Burchfiel about the assault. After the conversation “got somewhat heated,” Reis-Vierra was allegedly “beaten to unconsciousness and dragged to Seaside Avenue on the Waikiki Trade Center property” by Burchfiel “and/or security guards from The Shack Waikiki,” according to the suit.

In the federal criminal case, Burchfiel is identified by his initials only and described as the victim of one of Winward’s beatings.

Another civil case filed by Green was filed on behalf of plaintiff Justine Stevens, who alleged that she was beaten by Burchfiel’s wife, with the assistance of Burchfiel and Shack security personnel, on Super Bowl Sunday in February 2010.

Stevens had been working as a “Crown Royal Football Girl” at a Shack promotional event that day, according to the suit.

The final civil suit brought by Green against The Shack Waikiki was filed this past March on behalf of Nainoa Bettencourt, who alleged that after he he ordered a beer the bar at 2:45 a.m. March 2010, he was “attacked without provocation” by Shack bouncers, beaten unconscious and thrown out the door.

Shack Waikiki Facing Closure



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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com