By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Yesterday's arrest of Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, head of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, stems from a 1990 tax protest by a group of Hawaiians.
Kanahele was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday for harboring one of those tax protesters, Nathan Brown.
Brown was convicted in 1991 on 18 felony counts stemming from a scheme in which members of a group called the Royal Kingdom of Hawaii filed false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service claiming they had paid thousands of dollars to public officials, including then-Gov. John Waihee.
Brown, Windyceslau Lorenzo and three Mainland men appealed their convictions, but the appeal was rejected in 1993.
Brown failed to show up to begin serving his 6 1/2-year sentence and is still being sought by federal authorities, U.S. Attorney Steve Alm said yesterday.
Brown is a member of the Nation of Hawaii, but has stayed away from the group and its headquarters on state land in Waimanalo, said nation spokesman Rolf Nordahl.
Kanahele is accused of interfering with a Honolulu police officer's attempt to arrest Brown on Jan. 27, 1994, and harboring a fugitive and obstructing a U.S. marshal's attempt to arrest Brown on March 16, 1994.
The charges were contained in a secret indictment handed down by a federal grand jury yesterday morning.
Kanahele was arrested at Honolulu Airport less that three hours later.
He and his wife and three officers of his group had gone to Maui on Tuesday to meet some supporters.
Kanahele and his entourage all left Maui yesterday on a Hawaiian Airlines flight bound for Honolulu and Kauai. Kanahele was going to meet supporters on Kauai; the rest were returning to Oahu.
But when the plane landed at Honolulu, instead of Kauai-bound passengers staying aboard, everyone was asked to get off.
A Hawaiian Airlines spokesman said later that was done at the request of the FBI.
Kanahele was arrested by FBI agents and U.S. marshals when he left the plane, "without incident," according to Alm.
Later yesterday, Kanahele was arraigned before federal Magistrate Barry Kurren, who unsealed the indictment.
Wearing a green T-shirt, shorts and slippers, a somber Kanahele identified himself as "the head of state of the Nation of Hawaii."
"There's a conflict of law," he told Kurren. "I'd like the federal prosecutor to show venue and jurisdiction."
Kanahele and his supporters, some of whom drive cars with "Hawaiian Sovereign" license plates, claim that the federal and state governments are illegal. Thus, they say, neither the state nor the federal government has jurisdiction over them.
Kurren declined to get into that at yesterday's arraignment.
At the request of Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne, Kurren ordered Kanahele held without bail, at least until a detention hearing tomorrow.
Later yesterday, Alm held a news conference and said: "Federal laws are enacted to preserve the rights, privileges and freedoms of everyone in the United States - and each person in Hawaii has the responsibility to follow the law.
"No one is permitted to harbor fugitives convicted of multiple felonies for the purpose of preventing their arrest...."
Kanahele's supporters questioned why the federal authorities had taken more than a year to bring charges against Kanahele.
Alm said Kanahele's indictment stemmed from an investigation and evidence turned up in recent months.
Alm indicated the case did not stem from notices that Kanahele's supporters distributed recently, warning federal and state officials and judges against committing "acts of war" and "genocide" against Hawaiians.
Nor, Alm said, was the indictment related to the recent case of Jack Gonzales. The former executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission was briefly a federal fugitive in another case in June, but turned himself in claiming that as an officer of the Nation of Hawaii, he is exempt from federal law.
Some of Kanahele's supporters said yesterday's arrest will hasten their challenge of federal authority.
"It's another stop on the Bumpy road to independence," one said.
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