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California man allowed to return home while case pending

Fu is charged with electronic enticement of a child

WAILUKU — A California man arrested in an operation targeting online sexual predators was allowed to return home while his case is pending, after a $300,000 bench warrant was rescinded last month.

Ryan Fu, 28, was ordered to surrender his passport to the prosecutor’s office within a week of returning to California. He also was ordered to appear by videoconference for his pretrial conference June 28 in 2nd Circuit Court.

As a “geeky kind of guy” described by his attorney, “you should be able to figure it out,” Judge Rhonda Loo told Fu.

He was among seven men arrested March 12 to 14 in “Operation Keiki Shield 7,” which was run by police working with state and federal law enforcement officers.

Police reported that after explicit sexual conversation with a law enforcement officer posing as a 13-year-old girl, Fu arranged to meet her at Kihei Safeway in the fruit section.

He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child.

Fu asked to be allowed to leave Maui to live with his parents and younger brother in Pinole while his case is pending.

He has no prior arrests and had worked as an engineer for Google until October, according to his attorney, Anthony Ranken.

In a declaration filed in court, Fu said he came to Maui on vacation with friends who have since returned to the Mainland. He said he has no connections to Maui.

When his father posted $150,000 cash bail for him to be released from jail March 19, another inmate Bruce Mann, who also was arrested in the operation and was being released the same day, offered to let Fu stay at Mann’s house, Fu said.

Deputy Prosecutor Elizabeth Nardi said Fu’s decision to stay with someone charged with the same crime showed “questionable judgment.”

Ranken said in a memorandum that Fu stayed one night with Mann, then made other arrangements. Ranken said Fu wouldn’t flee and risk his parents’ life savings plus money they borrowed from friends to post his bail.

Noting that Fu didn’t appear for an April 14 court hearing, Nardi said, “The state has continued to be concerned and is not convinced that he hasn’t already left the island and come back.”

“There needs to be a tighter leash on him in this situation,” she said in opposing his request to be allowed to leave the state.

At the hearing April 30, Judge Loo asked whether Fu had left Maui.

“I can assure you my client has not done and would not do anything that would risk forfeiture of the bail,” Ranken said. “If I knew the answer, it would be because of a client confidential communication.”

“You’re saying no?” Loo said. “Your answer was cryptic.”

Ranken said Fu hadn’t left.

Loo warned Fu that if he doesn’t appear as required or is late for any court hearings, “you and your family will lose $150,000 in cash.”

In granting his request, she noted that Fu has no criminal history and appears to have a support system in California.

The $300,000 warrant was issued April 19 when Fu and Ranken didn’t appear for an April 19 pretrial conference and a waiver wasn’t filed in the case, court records show.

Ranken said an employee had mistakenly filed the waiver in Fu’s District Court case.

Fu wasn’t in the courtroom at the start of the April 30 hearing, with Ranken saying he hadn’t told Fu about the mistake because he “suffers from extreme anxiety.”

The prosecution had agreed that the warrant should be recalled.

Saying “it’s very unusual that the client doesn’t know what’s going on,” Judge Loo had her law clerk ask Fu whether he wanted to be in court. He entered the courtroom to hear the discussion about the warrant.

Loo said it was a “very expensive clerical error” before rescinding the warrant.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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