After quarantine violation arrest, alleged cult leader wants to make Hawaii home

Updated: Jun. 13, 2020 at 5:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An apparent cult leader arrested on the Big Island this week remains behind bars, unable to make bail.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii President and CEO said she arranged transportation for the cult to fly back to Los Angeles after their arrest, but got a phone call from Hawaii Island law enforcement that the cult leader declined, and wants his group to set up home on the Big Island.

A Hilo judge denied the leader's request for supervised release and bail reduction on Friday.

His attorney called it unconstitutional and is demanding a jury trial.

"To essentially tell him you are either going to stay in jail or you are going to leave the island, I don't know if that is appropriate," said defense attorney Evan Smith. “In his own words, unconstitutional for somebody to try to tell him you can't come here, and we are going to make you stay in jail until you act right.”

Court documents said a YouTube video published on Monday showed the defendant, Eligio Lee Bishop, at Carlsmith Beach Park petting a sea turtle.

He had just arrived in Hawaii the day before and signed paperwork saying he would quarantine for 14 days.

On Friday, the 38-year-old stood in his cellblock at the Hilo jail, cuffed, attending his initial court appearance virtually.

His attorney argued that his bail be reduced from $4,000 to $1,000. The judge declined.

“We are concerned that this defendant does have financial means he appears to have quite a following on social media and there were petitions to gather bail for all of the members,” said Deputy Prosecutor Kim Angay.

Bishop proclaims himself the leader of the suspected cult called “Carbon Nation.”

He and 19 of his followers were arrested this week in Puna for breaking the mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors.

He recorded his arrest.

“We broke the law. This is what happens. You gatta stay in quarantine for 14 days. It is what it is. We broke the law. They’re doing their job. Send your donations to help me out.”

Media reports say Bishop and his followers have been kicked out of several Central American countries on a variety of accusations from endangering people’s welfare to sex crimes.

He has consistently denied it.

Prosecutors say he has a criminal record in Georgia – a 2013 battery charge and 2016 unlawful interference with custody of a minor charge.

"We take it very seriously when people are coming over here. We have an emergency declaration and that declaration is there to protect people's lives," said Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth.

Haunani Miyasato lives next to where they were staying.

She says there were still people staying at the vacation rental as of Friday evening.

“Once I know for sure they are gone and I see the tents down in the yard and I see the cleaners coming to clean that vacation home, then I will feel safer," Miyasato said.

Bishop is due back in court on June 25th.

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