Alleged drug offender pleads not guilty

LIHUE —A man who racked up 20 drug charges in less than two weeks pleaded not guilty Wednesday before a Kauai judge.

Mark Christian, 49, is charged in two separate cases on several felony drug offenses, including promoting a harmful drug in the first degree, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug in the second degree, and four counts of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

In one case, Christian was indicted by a grand jury on April 21 for 10 counts of drug offenses. His trial in that case is scheduled for July 11.

When Kauai police officers served the Lihue man with the grand jury bench warrant, they also searched the vehicle he was driving and found 3.7 grams of cocaine, 1.2 grams of methamphetamine, 12.4 grams of marijuana, 59 Schedule II drugs, two Schedule IV drugs, according to a county news release.

He was arrested without incident on April 27 and charged with 10 additional drug offenses, including promoting a dangerous drug in the second degree, three counts of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, and three counts of promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree.

On Wednesday, Christian pleaded not guilty to those charges and requested that his bail be reduced from $100,000 to $64,000.

Earlier in the week, Christian had posted $64,000 bail but was rearrested after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday when the state recharged him and increased his bail to $100,000.

Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Char told the court the state had “arbitrarily bumped up Christian’s bail $36,000” after recharging him when the case moved from district court to circuit court.

She said that after reviewing the original charges and the new charges and noting no differences, she didn’t understand why the state “saw fit to up his bail to $100,000.”

Second deputy prosecutor Rebecca Vogt argued that the prosecuting attorney’s office thought the $100,000 bail was more appropriate for Christian because he was being charged with multiple drug offenses including an A felony, two B felonies, six C felonies, and one petty misdemeanor.

Vogt also told the court Christian had been arrested and charged with additional offenses while being served by police with a grand jury bench warrant. She called Christian a danger to the community.

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe denied the defense’s request to reduce bail and Christian remained in custody on $100,000 bail.

His trial is scheduled for Sept. 6.

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