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Man is jailed after allegedly strong-arming tourists

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 9:14 p.m. HST, Jul 6, 2012

A Maui man is accused of assaulting California tourists and trying to extort money from them to move his barbecue chicken stand blocking their vehicle, police said.

Jesse Nakooka couldn't be reached Thursday at Maui Community Correctional Center, where he's being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

He was arrested Sunday after the tourists from Riverside, Calif., reported he demanded cash to move a barbecue chicken stand blocking their vehicle when they got back from hiking at Twin Falls off Hana Highway, police said. After they gave him $20, he demanded $20 per person, police said.

When Nakooka didn't get more cash, he hit one man with a rake, punched another man in the face and assaulted two women, said Deputy Prosecutor John Tam. He used the rake to hit the man in the chest and arm with such force that the rake handle broke, Tam said.

The tourists drove to the Paia Fire Station to report the assault. Nako­oka told police he used the rake after almost getting hit by a car. Police recovered the broken metal rake and wooden handle, along with 11 $20 bills, from Nako­oka.

"This was entirely at random," Tam said. "The allegations involve the defendant being a danger to the community, accosting some unsuspecting tourists and demanding money from them."

Nakooka, 36, of Wai­ehu, is charged with attempted second-degree extortion, second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of harassment and false reporting to law enforcement, the Maui News reported.

He operates the chicken stand to support his wife and children, ages 1 to 4, Deputy Public Defender Aisha Hill said. Nako­oka's wife doesn't drive, and he has to take the children to doctor and dentist appointments, Hill said, arguing for him to be granted supervised release.

Tam said Nakooka's chicken stand is illegal.

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