Spear gets another hearing in May

LIHU‘E — A 5th Circuit Court judge on Wednesday agreed to a May hearing on Harold Spear’s effort to withdraw his guilty pleas for illegally dispensing prescription medications.

Judge Kathleen N. A. Watanabe granted Spear’s request to hear a withdrawal motion on two guilty pleas that he entered on March 31, 2010. The charges of felony prohibited acts are for illegally prescribing medications through his Hanapepe clinic.

The court granted State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato’s motion to withdraw as counsel. She said the office had a potential conflict of interest with issues that could be raised at the hearing.

The court appointed attorney Charles Arthur Foster to serve as defense counsel. He will represent Spear at a May 16 hearing in 5th Circuit court.

Hawai‘i Deputy Attorney General Gary Senaga objected to the motion for another hearing and expressed concern with logistical issues related to the federal sentencing. He asked the judge if sentencing could occur in the same hearing should the motion be denied.

Watanabe included a scheduled sentencing in the motion hearing in the event the motion was denied. She said it was also possible that the court would need to take the matter under advisement and continue the matter.

Spear was scheduled for sentencing in March and April when the case was continued on Sato’s motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of  jurisdiction and foundation for the grand jury. The court denied the motion. Watanabe said the indictment contained the essential elements for the grand jury decision.

The state case waited for more than three years as Spear fought federal charges at U.S. District Court in Honolulu. He was sentenced in federal court on March 1 to 12 years in prison for illegally dispensing Schedule III drugs in Alabama in 2008.

Spear is currently being held in a federal detention facility on O‘ahu until the outcome of the state court case. He will then be transferred to a federal prison for the remainder of his sentence.

The two Class C felony charges carry a maximum five-year sentence each.

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

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