Spear wants to withdraw guilty plea

LIHU‘E — A motion to dismiss an indictment was denied Wednesday, but Harold Spear started a new effort to withdraw his guilty plea that earned another continuance in 5th Circuit Court.

Hawai‘i Deputy Attorney General Gary Senaga said the move was more gamesmanship, and that the state should not allow Spear to continue the methods he has used to hold the federal court in limbo for the past two years.

Spear changed his plea to guilty on two counts of felony prohibited acts on March 31, 2010. The charges were for illegally prescribing medications through his Hanapepe clinic.

The case was delayed because Spear faced federal charges for illegally dispensing Schedule III drugs in Alabama in 2008. He was tried in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, where Judge David A. Ezra sentenced him to 12 years and seven months in prison.

Senaga said that the maneuvering Spears employed to change jurisdictions, attorneys, withdraw plea agreements, and make appeals came to an end on March 1, when he was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato said that should the court approve the motion and allow Spear to take his case to trial in 5th Circuit Court, she would move to withdraw as defense counsel for a conflict of interest. If the court denies the motion, then Sato would follow through as counsel in the sentencing.

Judge Kathleen N. A. Watanabe scheduled the hearing for April 18. Spear will be brought back from O‘ahu, where he currently is being held in federal detention until the outcome of the state court case.

Also during the hearing, Watanabe denied a motion to dismiss the indictment. She said after reviewing court transcripts and video testimony, that the court does not disagree with Sato’s claim that the grand jury indictment lacked jurisdiction and foundation.

However, Watanabe said that on its merits, the indictment contained the essential elements for the grand jury decision and ruled with the prosecution.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.


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