Renegade tour operator pays fine for Na Pali tours

HANALEI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A settlement between the Department of Land and Natural Resources and a man cited for illegal boat tours was approved by board members Friday, May 11.

The DLNR says Stephen Koehne was initially cited in 2017 for running an illegal boat tour business in Hanalei Bay.

DLNR officials alleged Koehne conducted the illegal tours on at least three instances and agreed to pay $15,000 in fines as part of a settlement over the allegations..

State investigators said he claimed the passengers were "friends of friends" and, despite warnings that his actions could be considered illegal, he continued anyway.

Koehne also allegedly advertised for private charters on his website, which is no longer active.

He then took people on tours for which he did not have a permit, the state said.

Koehne recently made headlines for a different reason during the historic Kauai floods.

He was arrested for extortion, robbery and terroristic threatening after multiple residents who were trapped on the North Shore reported Koehne "rescued" them via boat, then demanded money half way through the ride.

"DOBOR implemented these limits on commercial activity through Hawai'i Administrative Rules to address the community's concerns, and we are very satisfied with the outcome of this enforcement action," DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said.

"DOBOR will be able to show the community that DLNR hears their concerns and is taking steps to enforce commercial activity violations.  We hope that today's settlement puts an end to this blatant violation of the rules," Underwood added.

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