Prosecutor: ‘Snafu’ led to release of alleged bank robber

ANTHONY GOVER

An apparent mix-up has resulted in the release of a bank robbery suspect from Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Police issued a bulletin this afternoon seeking public leads in locating 58-year-old Anthony Louis Gover, who is charged with two counts of first-degree robbery for the knifepoint robbery May 17, 2017, of First Hawaiian Bank’s Pahoa branch.

Gover is described as African American, 6 feet tall, 170 pounds, bald with black eyes with a dark complexion. He’s known to frequent the Pahoa area.

The police release said Gover is wanted on an outstanding bench warrant for “violating the terms of his release.” But Gover wasn’t supposed to have been released in the first place, according to court records.

“There’s a snafu over at the jail. It’s not the first time,” said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville.

Court records indicate that Gover, who refused to leave his cell to be taken to court on these charges seven times, was indicted by a Hilo grand jury on Nov. 2 and a bench warrant setting bail at $20,000 was issued on Nov. 6.

According to minutes of a Hilo District Court hearing Jan. 18, Gover’s attorney, Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Ng, said his client had been served with the grand jury indictment, which moved the case to Hilo Circuit Court.

Court records indicate the District Court charges were dropped on Jan. 25. The Department of Public Safety website indicates Gover was released the same day because of “dropped charges.”

In the meantime, Gover refused to be taken to Hilo Circuit Court on Dec. 29 and Jan. 22. His arraignment and plea is now scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 19.

Damerville said initially, HCCC officials refused to allow police into Gover’s cell to arrest him on the bench warrant issued after indictment, but later relented.

“After the grand jury indictment warrant is served, the District Court charges are dismissed,” Damerville said. “So, notwithstanding that he had a warrant for his arrest on a grand jury indictment, they took the liberty of releasing him because the District Court charges are dismissed. Pretty crazy.”

Damerville said prosecutors weren’t contacted when Gover was released.

“We were contacted by bank employees when they saw him out on the street, and since they saw him as late as (Wednesday), I’m hopeful that we’re going to pick him up again.”

DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said the department “is looking into the matter at this time.”

Anyone with information on Gover’s whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the fourth time since 2013 that a high-profile defendant was released from custody, either by mistake or because of paperwork miscommunication between the courthouse and HCCC.

Tyler Kamana‘o Taylor, who is serving a 10-year prison term for robbing two tourist campers at knifepoint at Kolekole Beach Park, was similarly released March 6, 2013. Police put out a bulletin seeking public information about his whereabouts June 12, 2013, two days after the Tribune-Herald published a story about his erroneous release from jail. He turned himself in in late August 2013.

William Roy Carroll III, who is serving a five-year sentence for vandalizing and stealing the spear of the Kamehameha statue in Hilo, was released Sept. 15, 2015, after the jail received dismissal papers from Hilo District Court before obtaining a Hilo Circuit Court complaint for the same charges. Carroll was taken into custody the following morning without incident.

And Keanu K. Krause was released by HCCC on June 23, 2017, after a paperwork snafu between the Hilo courthouse and the jail resulted in jail officials not receiving a bail order for Krause’s continued detention. According to Damerville, sheriff’s deputies transported Krause back to HCCC without the court’s bail order.

Krause was taken back into custody without incident later in the day.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.