Hearing held for man accused of robbing First Hawaiian Bank

LIHUE — The teller at First Hawaiian Bank said he was sorting through money when a man appeared at his window on May 4.

“He suddenly came up to my window with a paper bag and a note in front of it,” said Cameron Yoneji. “It was a small note on a deposit slip, and it read ‘have gun, please fill.’”

Yoneji, who has worked at the bank for 10 months, testified Monday in a preliminary hearing for Norman Akana Jr., who is accused of robbing First Hawaiian Bank.

Akana, 42, appeared before District Court Judge Michael Soong on second-degree robbery and second degree theft exceeding $750 charges after police say he walked into First Hawaiian Bank around 10 a.m. and demanded money from a teller, later identified as Yoneji.

He fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Akana Jr. was arrested later that night at a residence in Niumalu and remains at Kauai Community Correctional Center on a $150,000 bail.

Yoneji said the handwriting on the note was messy, and he had to read it several times to understand it.

“I grabbed the cash in bundles and put it in the bag,” he said. “I had hundreds, fifties, twenties, fives, tens and ones.”

Yoneji said he didn’t look Akana Jr. in the face and that he didn’t say anything other than “hurry up.” He estimates the encounter lasted about eight minutes.

Akana Jr. was wanted on a $50,000 bench warrant for violating probation at the time of the alleged robbery. He has been on probation after a 2012 arson case, in which he is accused of setting fire to a victim’s property, causing more than $20,000 damage, said Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney.

He was also arrested in June 2013 for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, refusal to submit to testing and reckless driving after police say he drove his pickup truck into the ocean.

According to police, Akana had been driving his truck along the beach, in an area known as Kitchens, behind Wailua Golf Course, when the truck was struck by a wave and was pulled into the surf.

He was alone during the time of the incident. He had exited his Ford F-150 without injury by the time police and firefighters arrived at the scene. Three tow companies were needed to pull the fully submerged truck from the water, according to police.

He has twice been placed on early work release from probation, the most recent being in January, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The hearing was continued to May 18.

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