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Maui man convicted of trying to extort tourists

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WAILUKU » A Maui man has been found guilty of trying to extort money from a group of California tourists in Haiku last year and assaulting one of them with a rake.

A jury this week convicted Jesse Nakooka of third-degree attempted extortion and various assault charges. The 37-year-old from Haiku was found not guilty of harassing one of the visitors, a cancer patient who testified Nakooka shoved her to the ground, the Maui News reported.

The tourists testified they were returning from a hike last year when Nakooka demanded $20 to move his food stand, which was blocking their car. After he received $20, he said, "Get your car out if you can," according to Deputy Prosecutor Jerrie Sheppard.

Nicholas Nottingham, a truck driver from Riverside, Calif., managed to maneuver the car out of the tight spot. But Nakooka then used a table and his children to try to block the car, and he demanded more money, the tourists testified.

Nottingham’s girlfriend, Kalazetta Weaver, testified that Nakooka told her she could either call a tow truck, call 911, or go home in a body bag. Sheppard said Nakooka jumped on the hood of the car when they moved the table out of the way.

Nottingham said Nakooka hit him in the face and chest with a rake.

The tourists drove to a fire station and reported the incident.

Someone working at a nearby farm stand saw Nakooka "surrounded by a group of five to six people that are angry or aggressive," Deputy Public Defender Annalisa Bernard said, adding that Nakooka was holding a stick in self-defense.

Nakooka is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.

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