Prosecutor tries to close ‘drug house’

LIHUE — Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar is attempting to evict several Kalaheo residents he says have been running a drug house, an allegation the home’s occupants adamantly deny.

Kollar issued a press release earlier this month, announcing the filing of a “civil nuisance abatement action” to shut down the alleged drug house via court order. In the statement, Kollar included the address of the home and said its occupants, Rose Dahle, Robyn Dahle and Darrick Banasihan, “have a history of being associated with drug-dealing-type activities.”

When the news release ended up on another newspaper’s website, the Dahles and Banasihan were outraged. They called Michael Green, a prominent Honolulu defense attorney.

“They’ve got the wrong house!” Green said in an interview Tuesday. “There’s no drugs coming out of there.”

Two people were arrested in a raid of the Waha Road home in January. Police say they executed a search warrant of the house and found Nicholas McPeek and Akea Nino with a variety of drugs in their possession. Nino recently pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the arrest, and McPeek has multiple cases pending in Fifth Circuit Court.

But the home’s official residents were not charged with any crime, and so far the prosecuting attorney’s office has not produced any evidence to support its allegations that the Dahles and Banasihan were dealing drugs, an issue Green said could present the county with legal problems.

“If they don’t come up with some drug deals out of this, they’re gonna get sued,” he said.

Robyn Dahle and Banasihan, who were in the house when police conducted the raid on Jan. 10, said Monday they didn’t know McPeek and Nino were wanted by police, had no idea they were carrying drugs, and insisted they are not responsible for searching friends who visit their home.

Dahle and Banasihan were also offended by the manner in which police raided their home to arrest the two fugitives.

According to Kauai Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce, the Jan. 10 raid was conducted by the KPD’s special response team, which served a “high-risk search warrant to locate a wanted fugitive facing charges of kidnapping and terroristic threatening.”

Dahle said she was taking care of her 2-year-old grandson on a Thursday morning when she heard yelling from outside — “KPD! Get on the ground!”

She looked out and saw the house was surrounded by KPD officers with body shields.

“Meanwhile, they threw a flash bomb, and the whole neighborhood shook,” Dahle said. “They kicked the door in.”

Ponce said the people in the house failed to respond to multiple requests to answer the door after officers identified themselves and provided notice of a search warrant.

“Tactical-diversion devices were deployed outside of the residence and a breach of the door was initiated to carry out the search warrant,” he wrote in a statement describing the search. “Officers utilized nationally accepted and department-approved tactics during entry and while securing the interior of the residence.”

“One whole goon squad” poured into the house and forced everyone out onto the lawn, where they were forced to stand all day while police searched the house, according to Banasihan.

“They had to give us diapers and milk for the baby,” he said.

When the search was over, Dahle said she went back inside and found that “everything was turned upside down.” Her upstairs door was off the hinges. Broken glass was on the floor. Four months later, Dahle woke up to find what amounts to an eviction notice in the news. The allegations next to her name and home address, where she has lived for 45 years, only added insult to injury.

“Drug house? I was offended!” she said. “We raised my grandkids here.”

In an affidavit attached to Kollar’s civil complaint, Cynthia Reider, an investigator with the county prosecutor’s office, said neighbors have been complaining about noise and activity at the house since April 2017.

According to Reider’s affidavit, neighbors complain of “boom-box, amplified-type loud music, so disturbing that one neighbor has to sleep with ear plugs every night,” vehicles going in and out of the property “at all hours of the day and night,” speeding dirt-bikes making deliveries and drug runs to the home, heavy foot traffic and an increase in thefts at surrounding houses.

Dahle admits that the home can sometimes be a little noisy, but said the allegations about drugs are unfounded.

“We have a lot of friends. We always have,” she said. “What makes it a drug house?”

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

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