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Obama friend arrested

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    This photo taken in December 2009 shows President Barack Obama

A regular Hawaii golfing buddy and Punahou School friend of President Barack Obama was among four people arrested Monday night during a prostitution sting operation in Kakaako by Honolulu police.

Waialua resident Robert Richard “Bobby” Titcomb, 49, was arrested at South and Pohukaina streets at 9:40 p.m. Monday.

Titcomb was charged with prostitution and released after posting $500 bail at 11 p.m. The offense is a petty misdemeanor that carries a $500 fine. People convicted may also face probation, community service or up to 30 days in jail.

Titcomb, interviewed for a 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin article on his childhood friend and then-U.S. Senate candidate, was described as a “commercial fisherman and Continental Airlines flight attendant.”

Titcomb was one of four men arrested in a “reverse sting” targeting prostitution customers. HPD declined to give specifics about the location or other details about the operation.

HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said the department has ongoing prostitution operations. The sting that swept up Titcomb was neither unusual nor the result of an increase in anti-prostitution enforcement.

Yu declined to confirm or deny a Hawaii News Now report that the reverse sting involved a fake Internet site designed to lure customers.

There have been a number of prostitution arrests recorded at South and Pohukaina streets over the past several months. HPD has previously declined to comment on those arrests.

In a complaint filed in District Court yesterday, prosecutors said that on Monday, “Robert Richard Titcomb did engage in or agree or offer to engage in sexual conduct … with another person, for a fee thereby committing the offense of prostitution.”

Titcomb is scheduled to appear in District Court on May 2 at 8:30 a.m.

The president last played golf with Titcomb during the first family’s most recent holiday vacation over Christmas and New Year’s. On Dec. 30, 2010, the president and his family spent the day at Titcomb’s beachfront home in Mokuleia, where they ate barbecue, played volleyball and hung out on the beach.

In August 2008, Titcomb was one of two friends and a Secret Service agent who accompanied Obama when he dropped flower petals into the waters at a point near Halona Blowhole, where his mother’s ashes were scattered several years earlier.

Titcomb attended Punahou a year behind Obama but did not graduate from the school. Obama graduated in 1979.

In June 1987, Titcomb was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a petty misdemeanor, and striking an unattended vehicle, a violation. He also was arrested for criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor, and driving without a seat belt. He pleaded guilty to those charges in August 1989, was fined $290 and had his license suspended for 90 days. Titcomb has nothing else on his criminal record.

Michael J. Ramos, a 1978 Punahou graduate and another member of Obama’s annual Hawaii entourage, said he has known Titcomb for 30 years. “I love him like a brother, he’s a great friend, he’s got a big heart and he’s a good man,” he said. “I just feel really bad for him in this situation. It’s a personal matter and I hope he will have some privacy to work it out.”

Ramos, who now lives in Denver, last saw Titcomb during Obama’s last visit here in December-January.

“He’s someone I look up to in many ways. He embodies the best of the aloha spirit and I just feel bad for him.”


Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Shikina contributed to this report.

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