Feds Allege Violence, Extortion At Waikiki Nightspot

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BY JIM DOOLEY – Three men are in federal custody on charges of using extortion and violence to gain control of The Shack Waikiki, a notorious nightspot that has been the scene of numerous violent incidents in recent years.

Charged in the case are Tory Winward, 44, alleged by the FBI to hold a secret controlling interest in The Shack Waikiki; Curtis Swanson, 44, a longtime member of the security force at the bar; and Jesse Yoshino, 30, a friend of Winward and Swanson.


Winward and Swanson have lengthy criminal records for numerous crimes committed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Winward has been convicted of drug and firearms charges as well as burglary, theft, robbery and kidnapping.

Swanson has been convicted of felony drug and firearms charges as well as numerous misdemeanor crimes.

The two defendants are very similar in physical appearance, standing under six feet tall and weighing in excess of 250 pounds. Both have shaved heads.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady, who has prosecuted local organized crime cases here, said in court that he will file motions to hold all three men without bail until the charges against them are resolved.

Hearings on those detention motions will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“Extortion should never be a normal cost of doing business in Hawaii,” said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, spokesman for the Hawaii office of the Bureau.

Special Agent Joe Yum said in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday that Winward originally was a “silent partner” in the Kuhio Avenue restaurant-bar, holding a nine per cent share of the business.

State law prohibits ownership of 25 per cent or more of  a licensed liquor dispenser by a convicted felon.

Honolulu Liquor Commission executive Anna Hirai said late today that commission files show that since 2008, The Shack Waikiki has been the target of various enforcement actions:

  • Fined for exceeding taste sampling volume limits.
  • Fined for sale to minor.
  • Fined twice for failure to suppress unlawful conduct (bouncer beating up patron).
  • Fined for open liquor after permissible hours.
  • Petition to impose conditions/restrictions on the license filed in 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, one of the original owners of The Shack, identified in the court papers by the initials A.L., gave up a 51 per cent interest in the business in September 2010 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 said in a sworn affidavit.

A.L. “feared for his physical safety and for the safety of his family”  because he had seen Winward assault a male at the Waikiki

Shack Waikiki

Trade Center and knew about Winward’s “extensive criminal history,” Yum said in the affidavit.

When Shack managers complained that Winward was hiring personnel “who rarely came to work,” Winward became angry at another of the company’s owners and arranged for him to be beaten in the nightclub, according to Yum.

That victim, identified in the court papers as B.B., is believed to be Brandon Burchfiel, named in business records as a manager of The Shack Waikiki.

Yoshino, 30, allegedly carried out the assault in November 2010.

Yum said in his affidavit that the beating was videotaped and that Swanson was also present when the assault occurred.

The same victim was also “attacked and punched” in the office of The Shack on July 30 of this year, according to Yum.

Appearing in court Monday, Yoshino asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Pugilisi to release him from custody, saying he has sole legal and physical custody of two young sons and needed to arrange for their care. Yoshino has no criminal record.

Brady opposed any release, saying the boys also live with their grandmother.

Simon of the FBI office said, “Nobody should have to go to work under the fear of violence. Running a small business in this economy is hard enough already.”

The Liquor Commission has repeatedly expressed concerns about violence and rowdy behavior at the nightspot, especially in the early hours of the morning when the Shack and other bars close their doors and customers pour onto Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki.

Eight lawsuits have been filed against the establishment, its owners and employees since 2008.

Two pending lawsuits were filed by attorney Michael Cruise for plaintiffs who claimed they were beaten by security staff at the Shack.

One of the plaintiffs, Kauiokalani Kauhi, was on the security staff of The Shack when Winward and possibly others severely beat him, causing multiple facial fractures and head injuries, according to his lawsuit.

Two University of Hawaii football players who were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges early Sunday morning in Waikiki by Honolulu Police reportedly began their evening at a party at the Shack, then moved to a nearby nightclub where the violence allegedly occurred.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Yoshino was a bouncer at the Shack Waikiki.