COPY-Man Pleads Guilty To Extorting Money From Governor's Chief of Staff

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- An Indian national suspected of blackmailing Governor Lingle's then-chief of staff goes before a Federal judge and pleads guilty.

Rajdatta Patkar says he has degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, and was in Japan working on his master's in business administration when US authorities nabbed him. Tuesday, the 46-year-old with no prior arrests pleaded guilty to an extortion charge.

He admits he extorted $35,000 from the Governor's then-Chief of Staff Bob Awana. The victim is identified in court papers as R.A.

According to the documents, Patkar sent the victim e-mails stating "that he had obtained personal information about R.A., the disclosure of which would jeopardize R.A.'s professional reputation, social standing and personal relationships."

Awana abruptly resigned last month. That "personal information" and the e-mails remain under seal.

"I will say that the case is not being treated any differently than any other extortion case," Elliot Enoki, Assistant US Attorney, said. "We do have to keep in mind, of course, the individual characteristics of every victim, no matter who they are."

"He is sorry," Pamela Byrne, Federal Public Defender, said about her client. "He's remorseful. He feels really humbled, and he's been treated well by our system."

In exchange for the plea, Federal prosecutors dropped four other extortion counts. Patkar faces up to two years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000, when he's sentenced in October.